About 64.7 million Americans aged more than 30 years have periodontitis (gum disease) – making this condition a growing concern in this country. If you have periodontitis, you may experience pain in the gums, bad breath, receding, swollen and red gums, or even tooth loss.
To reduce your chances of developing gum disease, you must take good care of your gums and your mouth. Healthy gums are the foundation for healthy teeth and a healthy smile.
Here’s how to keep your gums healthy so that you can keep smiling.
Brush Your Teeth Properly
Brushing your teeth properly can go a long way in helping you to have healthy gums. You need to brush your teeth at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush.
Brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle to the gums and move the toothbrush in short strokes while pressing gently. Always remember to clean both sides of your teeth. You are supposed to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or as soon as the bristles begin to fray.
How to Keep Your Gums Healthy: Floss Daily
When did you floss last? The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing daily. Cleaning between your teeth removes plaque and food particles from between your teeth and gums.
Plaque contains bacteria that feed on sugar or leftover food in your mouth. The bacteria releases acids that can cause cavities by eating away the outer shell of your teeth.
If not removed, plaque can harden into a substance called calculus (or tartar) which collects along the gum line leading to gum disease.
There are two types of mouthwash that you can use: cosmetic and therapeutic. However, you should not use mouthwash as a replacement for flossing and brushing.
A therapeutic mouthwash can help:
- Reduce the speed at which calculus builds up
- Prevent gum disease
- Remove food particles from your mouth
- Reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth
Look for the ADA seal when buying mouthwash. This seal indicates that the manufacturer of the mouthwash has demonstrated enough evidence to support the effectiveness and safety of the product.
However, children under the age of 6 years should not use mouthwash.
Choose the Right Toothpaste
There are many brands of toothpaste and whitening products in the market today. Unfortunately, not all of them are good for your teeth. When buying toothpaste, ensure it contains fluoride and there should also be the ADA seal on its packaging.
Get Regular Dental Checkups
Regular dental checkups are a must if you want to keep your gums healthy. It is during such checkups that a dentist can detect the early signs of gum disease and start immediate treatment. If you have bleeding gums, early detection of the cause can help prevent more severe problems from occurring.
During a dental checkup, your mouth will be professionally cleaned to help eliminate the plaque that you may have missed when brushing your teeth. This is the best way to ensure calculus doesn’t form on your teeth.
Eat the Right Foods
What you eat doesn’t only affect your waistline, it also has a great impact on your oral health.
Different foods have different effects on gum health. Some of the foods that you should incorporate into your diet include:
- Green and black teas, these help in reducing bacteria
- Vegetables and high-fiber fruits, as these help in cleaning the mouth
- Foods that contain fluoride, which include some seafood and poultry products
- Dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, and milk, as these foods help in increasing saliva production
- Sugar-free chewing gum to increase saliva production
It is best to avoid the following foods and beverages:
- Alcohol, as it dries out the mouth
- Carbonated soft drinks that contain sugar as well as citric and phosphoric acids
- Starchy foods that get stuck on the teeth
- Sticky sweets and candies that stay in the mouth for a while
Quit Smoking. You are probably aware that cigarettes are terrible for your lungs and heart. Do you know that smoking can also wreak havoc on your gums and teeth? If you are a smoker, you are four times more likely to develop periodontitis than a nonsmoker.
Smoking lowers your body’s immune function thereby increasing the risk of gum disease. By quitting this habit, you’ll lower your chances of getting gum disease and many other health conditions.
Brush Your Tongue
Flossing between your gums and brushing your teeth daily may not remove all the bacteria in your mouth. Your tongue accumulates a lot of bacteria during the day and if not cleaned, the bacteria can get transferred to your gums and cause an infection.
So, as you brush your teeth and floss, ensure that you also clean your tongue using your toothbrush.
Use an Electric Toothbrush
An electric toothbrush is a bit more expensive than a regular toothbrush but it does a better job. It helps in removing plaque and also prevents you from brushing your teeth too aggressively that might end up injuring your gums.
So, if you do not already have an electric toothbrush, you might consider investing in one today.
More on How to Keep Your Gums Healthy
Still wondering how to keep your gums healthy? Keeping your gums healthy is a personal responsibility and the good news is that it’s not expensive.
Rather than waiting until it is too late, you can start following the tips discussed above and you’ll be surprised at how you’ll have a healthy smile within a few days. Also, pay attention to any signs of gum disease.
Do not ignore any pains or swelling on your gums. The sooner a problem is detected, the easier it is to treat. Make an appointment to see a dentist whenever you notice any blood when you brush your teeth or when your gums become red and puffy.
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