Whether in the mildest or most advanced forms, gum disease is very common. The prevalence of the condition can make sense when you think about everything that the teeth and gums go through on a daily basis. Over the course of a person’s life, the gums and teeth have chewed through countless meals and drunk countless beverages (some of them full of sugar, which bacteria love).
Although gum disease is very common, it’s not inevitable. If you want to significantly reduce your risk for developing gum disease, here are a few things you can do.
1. Clean Your Teeth and Gums Regularly
A build-up of tartar and plaque on the teeth and beneath the gums is what attracts the bacteria that live in the mouth. Those bacteria then produce toxins that irritate and inflame the gums, leading to the symptoms of gingivitis. One way to keep the bacteria, plaque, and tartar at bay is to practice good oral hygiene.
Good oral hygiene is at least a two-step process. It means brushing your teeth at least twice a day, or after each meal, if possible. It also means flossing at least once a day, to remove any plaque and food bits that might get stuck between the teeth.
People who are at an increased risk for developing gum disease might also find that rinsing their mouths with an antibacterial or antiplaque mouthwash adds another layer of preventative protection.
2. See Your Dentist for Regular Check-ups
Along with practicing good oral hygiene at home, it’s important to see a dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and an exam. In addition, you might consider seeing a periodontist once a year for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation. During a periodontal evaluation, the periodontist will exam your gums, teeth, bone, plaque levels and your bite. The goal is to detect any signs of gum disease and to treat them early, so that lasting damage doesn’t occur.
3. Don’t Smoke
There are plenty of reasons not to smoke. Here’s one more: smoking increases your risk for gum disease. First, the ingredients in tobacco products and smoke keep your immune system from working as well as it could. Reduced immune function means that it’s more difficult for your body to fight off infection in the gums.
Second, smoking interferes with blood flow and circulation, which can make it difficult for your gums to heal if they are irritated or inflamed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of developing gum disease is twice as high in smokers compared to non-smokers. Risk always increases the longer a person smokes and the more cigarettes they smoke.
4. Eat a Balanced, Nutritious Diet
Eating a healthy diet can also help to lower your risk of gum disease. The better your diet, usually the better your immune system function, which can help to reduce the risk of infection in the gums. Additionally, certain vitamins might be able to help protect your gums. One study suggested that people with higher than average levels of vitamin D in their blood were less likely to have symptoms of gingivitis. Vitamin C can also play a role in helping to reduce bleeding gums.
5. Keep Stress in Check
If you are constantly stressed out, it might increase your risk for gum disease. High levels of stress lower your immune system’s function, which can put you at a higher risk of infection. Additionally, certain habits associated with high stress levels, such as teeth grinding or clenching, can cause irritation of the gums, which also puts you at a higher risk for gum disease.
Reducing the stress in your life can be easier said than done, but for the sake of your gum health and your overall health, it’s worth it.
Often, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. To learn more about how you can prevent gum disease, schedule an appointment with a periodontal specialist today. In the Miami area, Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist who offers patients a number of different traditional and cutting-edge treatments for gum disease. He can recommend a prevention or treatment plan that works for you. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.