You already know that brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing once a day helps to protect your teeth from cavities and lowers your risk of gum disease. But keeping your mouth clean isn’t the only thing you can do to protect your gums and ward off periodontal disease.
Some lifestyle factors can increase your risk of developing gum disease and other oral health problems, such as cavities. Making a few changes to your daily habits and lifestyle can make a big difference when it comes to the overall health of your mouth. Try making one or more of the following changes to see how doing so positively affects your health.
One of the biggest risk factors for gum disease is smoking or using other forms of tobacco. Nicotine and the other chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco products disrupt your body’s ability to heal itself. The smoke from cigarettes also increases your risk of inflammation in the gums.
Quitting smoking can be challenging (otherwise you probably would have done it already). If you’re interested in giving up the habit, you can talk to your doctor or dentist about smoking cessation options. Some people find that wearing a patch helps, others quit cold turkey, and some find it helpful to join a support group. If you’re ready to quit, your best bet is to try everything and find the option that works best for you.
Rethink Your Diet
Your diet also has a significant effect on the health of your gums and the rest of your mouth. Some foods are particularly good for your teeth, such as dairy products that contain calcium. Crunchy vegetables and fruits are also beneficial, as they can scrub the teeth (gently), removing other pieces of food.
Other foods aren’t so good for your teeth and gum health. A diet high in sugary or starchy foods increases your risk of developing cavities, for instance.
It’s also worth noting that a diet full of “junk” food or foods that don’t have much to offer in the way of nutrition can increase your risk of gum disease. Your body needs nutrients to help fight off infection. If you’re interested in improving your overall diet, you might find it helpful to speak with a nutritionist or dietician.
Get in the Habit of Seeing Your Dentist
Preventative care, such as regular cleanings and dental exams, can help you keep your mouth in good shape. Seeing your dentist on a regular basis also gives them the chance to detect any potential problems in the mouth early and treat those problems before they become big issues.
For example, in the earliest stages, gum disease (known as gingivitis at that point) is reversible. But left untreated, it can advance to periodontal disease, which can’t be reversed.
Cut Back on Alcohol
While some alcohol in moderation might not have much of an effect on your health, there have been studies that suggest heavy drinking can have a negative effect on gum health. People who already have gum disease and who drink are likely to see their gum disease get worse.
Cutting back on alcohol might be difficult, depending on how much you drink. If you’re struggling to cut back, it can be helpful to speak with a medical professional about your options.
Here’s one more reason to commit to lacing up your running shoes or heading to the gym: Exercise might help to lower your risk of gum disease. One study found that people who exercised regularly had lower rates of gum disease than those who didn’t work out.
If you haven’t exercised before or if it’s been a while since you worked out, it’s a good idea to get the all-clear from your doctor before you begin. You might also want to work with a personal trainer, at least at first. Your trainer can help you put together an exercise program that’s appropriate for your skill level while offering you some challenge.
Find a Way to Relax
Having high stress levels will affect your body’s immune system, which can put you at an increased risk for gum disease. You’re also more likely to grind your teeth or skip brushing when you feel overly stressed.
Ways to lower stress include exercising, doing yoga, taking deep breaths, and disconnecting from people or activities that stress you out.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area offering patients custom oral health plans. He can recommend lifestyle changes that will help you protect your gums and oral health. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.