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Thursday, October 23, 2014

10 Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

Dentist treating patient with gum disease
In dentistry, “gum disease” or “periodontal disease” are general terms used to describe when gum, or gingiva tissue is in an unhealthy state. There are two main categories that gum disease can be broken into:

  1. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. At this stage, there is little or no discomfort. However, gum tissue may become red, swollen, and bleed easily when brushing or flossing your teeth. The symptoms of gingivitis are completely reversible with professional treatment with your dentist and hygienist and a more rigorous at home oral hygiene routine.

  2. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to a more serious condition called Periodontitis. At this stage, plaque and tartar build up and spread below the gum line. As the gingiva become inflamed and pull away from the teeth, pockets are formed next to the vulnerable roots of the teeth. These spaces easily fill with bacteria and infection. A combination of bacteria and the body’s own inflammatory response will start breaking down tissue that supports the teeth. The outcome of periodontitis can be permanent damage to bone and loss of teeth.

For more information on the causes, symptoms and risk factors of periodontal disease, check out our blog post here.

Prevention is always the best method to avoid the discomfort and pain periodontal disease presents as well as the expensive treatments required to overcome it. We’ve got five tips from dentist to ward off gum disease as well as five home remedies to prevent and treat gingivitis and periodontitis.

Advice from your dentist:

  1. Brush your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends at least twice per day. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, it’s also a place that bacteria can accumulate.

  2. Use Floss. Flossing is essential for reaching those tight spaces that a toothbrush cannot get to.

  3. Mouthwash. It is another defense to reduce plaque and wash away the leftover food particles that encourage bacteria and plaque growth.

  4. Stop Smoking. Smoking significantly increases your risk for developing periodontal disease. To make matters worse, it also decreases the chances for successful treatment of the condition.

  5. See your dentist regularly. There is no substitute for routine visits for professional cleanings with your dentist. The tools they use get rid of tartar that is impossible to remove with at home care. Routine visits allow your dentist to stay on top of your oral health by diagnosing and addressing problems such as gum disease early on before they develop into more serious dental issues.

At home remedies to try (after running them by your dentist):

  1. Swishing with Hydrogen Peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide can help to kill bacteria residing in the mouth. It’s not safe to swallow though, so swish with care.

  2. Green Tea. Some research suggests that drinking green tea can have a positive impact on your oral health. It contains compounds that may help control inflammation (a common symptom of gum disease) and help fight bacterial infection.

  3. Warm salt water rinse. Rinsing your mouth with a warm, salt water solution can help to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. In fact, your dentist has probably recommended saltwater to help deal reduce swelling and quell the pain that comes from having a tooth pulled or a persistent mouth sore. While this remedy is a good one, it’s not recommended for daily usage. The acidity of the saltwater can cause enamel to wear away after consistent, long term exposure.

  4. Brush with baking soda. Brushing with water and baking soda can help to neutralize acids on your teeth. Other perks, sodium bicarbonate (the technical term for baking soda) polishes teeth and makes them appear whiter, it fights bad breath, and it is very affordable. With the good, comes the bad. Baking soda is a mild abrasive, so brushing with it too often, for too long or to vigorously can wear your gums and enamel.

  5. Eat vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been found to promote connective tissue and bone growth. It also boosts the body’s immune system and is helpful in fighting off bacteria. Citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries, papayas, broccoli and peppers are all great sources of vitamin C.

Avoid and treat gum disease by implementing these tips into your oral hygiene routine. Which of these suggestions have you tried? Tell us your success stories!  And, if you’ve got a favorite home remedy that keeps your mouth healthy and staves off periodontal disease that we’ve missed, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.