Having a healthy mouth involves more than a bright smile and straight teeth. As much as visible appearance plays a role in identifying and protecting areas of concern in the mouth, it’s imperative that you take steps to keep your gums healthy.
Gum disease is often painless and can go unnoticed if not properly examined. Even if you don’t have cavities or anything noticeably “wrong” that you can see, you may be suffering from gum disease.
What exactly is gum disease?
When plaque—a sticky film-like substance that’s filled with bacteria—increases along the gum line, it can result in infections that damage your gums and bones. This eventually leads to tooth decay and gum disease. In addition, this excess plaque can cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Gingivitis causes your gums to become inflamed, tender and swollen.
What can you do to keep your gums healthy?
- Get dental check-ups at least twice per year.
Regular checkups ensure that your dentist is able to identify any early symptoms of periodontitis (gum disease) and treat them before they become more hazardous to your health. You’ll need to have your teeth cleaned by your dentist in order to effectively remove tartar or excess plaque you might have missed in brushing or flossing.
- Floss before bedtime.
Flossing is a crucial component of oral health, particularly when it comes to gums. You’ll need to get in between your teeth and along the gum line to ensure that your gums are plaque-free, especially before you go to bed. You don’t want to let bacteria grow and multiply for hours while you sleep!
- Use an electric toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and non-alcoholic mouthwash twice per day.
Electric toothbrushes greatly decrease your chance of gingivitis and plaque more than manual brushing. You’ll need to switch toothbrush heads every three months or so. Scrub your tongue too, since it harbors bacteria. Select toothpaste that contains fluoride and is approved by the ADA, not just based on a flavor or a claim of “teeth whitening”.
Although not a substitute for flossing or brushing, rinsing with a non-alcoholic mouthwash helps remove food particles and debris as well as decrease the number of bad bacteria in the mouth.
- Take a daily multivitamin.
As we all know, proper nutrition is one of the most important factors in whole-body health, and that includes the mouth. There are a ton of foods that provide the vitamins that benefit your oral health, and we recommend you find what works for you. If you’re looking for a convenient, reliable alternative, we recommend taking a daily multivitamin to supplement vitamins such as calcium, phosphorus, Vitamins D, K, C and A as well as potassium.
Here is one we recommend.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods.
We preach it all the time, but food plays such an important role in maintaining your oral health. Everything you eat or drink affects your teeth, particularly sugary, processed foods and highly acidic foods, which can break down your tooth enamel and create cavities. Eat fresh, unprocessed food such as fish, broccoli, avocados, green tea, peppers, mushrooms, grapes, olive oil, tomatoes, cherries and most other fruits and vegetables. Avoid chips, white bread, fried foods, sugary drinks, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, refined carbohydrates and excessive alcohol.
- Quit smoking.
This one may seem obvious, but smoking is one of the most harmful activities to your oral health. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), smoking stains your teeth and tongue, and dulls your sense of smell and taste. In addition, smoking slows the healing process, you may be prone to complications after dental surgery. Smoking weakens your immune system’s response to bacteria, making you more likely to suffer from gum disease. Finally, oral cancer is one of the most deadly possible results caused by smoking.
We hope this serves as a roadmap to help you keep your gums healthy for years to come. If you would like to get more information on how to protect your gums, improve your oral health or how Dental Arts can help you get the results you want for your mouth, please contact us.
Dental Arts is a full-service general dentistry and orthodontic practice for the entire family. For more than three decades, we have been providing the highest quality dental and orthodontic care available to the residents of New Orleans. Explore the Dental Arts difference today.