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Did you know that nearly half of all Americans have gum disease? Gum disease, if left unchecked, can lead to bone loss, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. Here are some ways you can prevent gum disease and keep your teeth for a long time.
Know the Signs of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. When caught early, gingivitis can be turned around easily to reduce your chances of developing periodontitis, a more advanced stage of the disease. Symptoms of gingivitis include red gums, swelling, bleeding when you floss, and soreness in the gums. If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist or dental hygienist for a professional cleaning.
Brush, Floss, and See Your Dentist Regularly
Gum disease is often caused by not brushing or flossing enough. If bacteria is left to sit on the teeth, it can get under your gumline and cause swelling and soreness. This makes it more difficult to get under the gumline to clean it properly, which causes even more soreness, swelling, and bleeding. It’s a cycle that can only be broken by improving your oral hygiene.
A professional cleaning will remove the plaque and bacteria under the gumline. From there, you’ll need to brush twice daily, floss each night before bed, and, in some cases, use an antibacterial mouthwash. Once your gums go back to normal, it will be easier to keep them clean, so don’t worry if it’s uncomfortable in the days following your cleaning. Just keep brushing and flossing as directed.
If you smoke, it’s likely causing gum disease. It’s difficult to quit, but you should do so to reduce the negative health implications. If you’re having trouble quitting, talk to your physician for help. In the meantime, be sure to brush and floss well to minimize the damage.
Watch Your Diet
Eating a lot of sugar and starches (like white bread and potato chips) can cause gum inflammation because the bacteria in your mouth are well-fed by these substances. This causes them to multiply. Also, these types of foods tend to stick to the teeth, causing decay and gum swelling. Be sure to sip water frequently and to eat foods like raw carrots, apples and strawberries to help keep your teeth and gums in good shape.
Seeing your dentist twice per year allows him or her to evaluate you for the early stages of gum disease so you can make changes before it’s too late. If you’re due for an appointment, give us a call!