Taking good care of your teeth is essential, but proper gum care is vital too. If your gums are in bad shape, you're at risk of tooth loss and other oral health issues. Poor gum health can influence your general health, making it even more important to look after your gums. Here are some tips to help you keep your gums in good shape, for excellent oral health.
Gum disease is easy to prevent with good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. Even so, almost half of American adults have signs of gum disease—and the potential consequences of gum disease are serious. Advanced gum disease leads to tooth loss, and medical research has recently discovered that gum disease can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.
What do Healthy Gums Look Like?
One major reason why gum disease is so common is that the early signs of gum disease are hard to spot. Most people with gum disease aren’t aware of the problem at all.
However, healthy gums do look different from unhealthy gums, so learning to spot the difference can help you recognize when you need treatment.
Healthy gums are firm and pink. They wrap around your teeth snugly and hold the teeth firmly in place. They don’t bleed or appear swollen.
Unhealthy gums look bright red and appear swollen. They may be painful or tender to touch and may bleed when brushing or flossing. They may start to recede from the tooth, and in advanced disease, the teeth become loose and may even fall out.
Take Care of Your Gums, and Prevent Gum Disease
Fortunately, it’s easy to take care of your gums and keep gum disease at bay. All that’s needed is to practice good dental hygiene consistently.
• Twice-daily brushing. Use a soft-bristled brush, and don’t brush too hard, as this irritates your gums. Change your toothbrush every three months for best results.
• Daily flossing. This removes food particles and plaque that brushing can’t reach. Be gentle with flossing, to avoid cutting into your gums with the thread.
• Daily mouthwash. This kills bacteria and flushes out leftover food and plaque.
• For swollen or red gums, rinse twice a week with mild salt-water to help healing.
• Smoking doubles your risk of gum disease. If you’re a smoker, consider quitting or cutting down.
The final piece of the puzzle is regular visits to your dentist—at least once or twice a year. More frequent visits may be needed if you do have signs of gum disease, or if you have diabetes or are pregnant.
Drs. Robert S. Kaplan and Nicole M. Ford are your skilled and compassionate dental professionals dedicated to providing exceptional preventive care throughout the Newton Centre communities. Call us today to schedule your comprehensive consultation!