Brushing and flossing properly on a regular basis is necessary to keep your teeth in their best condition. However, another significant factor in having perfect teeth is having gums that are healthy. When you are taking good care of your gums, you are also doing the same for your teeth.
While the build-up of plaque can affect your teeth, the bacteria present in that substance can also begin to accumulate along and underneath the gum line, causing a mild type of gum disease called gingivitis. Gingivitis can irritate your gums, causing them to swell. Most importantly, it can lead to more severe gum disease and dental issues.
Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease that causes the deterioration of the bones that keep your teeth in place. Advanced stages of periodontitis can result in the destruction of the bones and fibers supporting your teeth, which can require that your teeth be removed. In addition to compromising the health of your teeth, periodontitis can also affect your overall health.
Some symptoms of gum disease may include:
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Gums that have a tendency to bleed easily
- Gums that have drawn from your teeth
- Chronic bad breath
- Constantly having bad taste in your mouth
How to Keep Your Gums Healthy
There are several things you can do to make sure that your gums are in the best of health:
- Stop smoking. There is a strong link between smoking and the onset of gum disease. Smoking can make it harder for you to resist a gum infection by making your immune system weaker. The habit can also affect how well your gums can heal themselves if they are damaged.
- Floss. Flossing at least one time a day can help remove bits of food and plaque that the bristles of your toothbrush are unable to reach. You can floss after brushing or after a meal.
- Get dental cleanings. One of the benefits of having regular dental visits is that your dentist can give your gums and teeth a professional cleaning and detect any early signs of gum disease. Professional cleanings are also the only way to remove plaque that has hardened into tartar. Also, gingivitis can be reversed with regular flossing, brushing and dental cleanings.
- Use the right type of mouthwash. Although it should not replace brushing and flossing, washing out your mouth with a therapeutic mouthwash can help eliminate plaque, prevent gingivitis and slow down how quickly tartar can develop. Be sure to choose a mouthwash that has the ADA seal that indicates that is considered safe.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride can benefit your gums just as well as your teeth. As with your mouthwash, it is best to choose the toothpaste with the ADA seal of acceptance.
- Brush properly. The first step to ensuring that your gums are healthy is to keep in mind that they are composed of relatively fragile tissue. This means that you should use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Gums that are sore, bleeding and swollen from harsh treatment are susceptible to infections.