The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 47 percent of people over 30 have some form of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. While gum disease can certainly be treated, any dentist or orthodontist will tell you it’s better to take preventive measures so that it never develops in the first place. When plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth for too long, it can lead to the earliest stages of gum disease, which is gingivitis.
Gum disease is characterized by inflammation, tenderness, redness, and swelling of the gums. A person’s gums may also become prone to bleeding. Here are some things you should be doing to maintain healthy gums, and prevent gum disease from developing.
You should technically brush your teeth after every meal, but be sure to brush at least twice a day to maintain healthy gums. Brushing helps to get rid of the food and plaque from your teeth and around the gumline. Scrub your tongue with your toothbrush as well, since that’s an area where bacteria like to hang out. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits comfortably inside your mouth.
If you wear standard braces, lingual braces, or another orthodontic appliance, it is especially important to keep up with regular brushing. Use any specialized tools or picks that your orthodontist or dentist recommends, so you can get to those hard-to-reach places and clear out the plaque. Gum disease or tooth decay could develop more quickly while you’re wearing braces — so keep up with brushing!
The same goes for flossing. Be sure to floss your teeth at least once a day. Most of the bits of plaque or food that you miss through brushing can be removed with regular flossing. If you wear braces, use the floss threader that your orthodontist taught you how to use.
Use Fluoride Toothpaste
ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste will help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Some range in color and various flavors. It doesn’t matter what other features the toothpaste has. Those are just preferences. Any are fine as long as it has fluoride in it. That’s what helps to maintain healthy gums.
Use Fluoride Alcohol-free Xylitol Mouthwash
Using an over the counter mouthwash after you brush your teeth can flush away any excess food or plaque. Mouthwash will reduce plaque and can also reduce the speed at which tartar builds up on your teeth. And, of course, it can reduce or prevent early-stage gum disease. Remember that rinsing with mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing or flossing. Be sure to use all three (brushing, flossing, mouthwash) every day to have the best success in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Tobacco use is strongly associated with the onset of periodontal disease. If you are a smoker, your friendly and affordable orthodontist is always going to recommend that you kick the habit. Smoking has been proven to weaken the immune system, and that makes you more vulnerable to developing gum disease, along with a host of other potential problems.
If your gums become damaged by periodontal disease, it will take time for them to heal. Smoking can actually slow down that healing process. For the sake of your gums and your overall health, quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do.
Don’t Miss Oral Health Appointments
When you have regularly scheduled appointments with your dentist, keep those appointments! Having your teeth cleaned professionally, twice a year, is another way to stave off gum disease. Plus, your oral health care professionals are going to check your gums for early signs of gingivitis and gum disease during your exam. The earlier that gum disease is detected, the easier it will be to treat.
If you are a patient of Valderrama Orthodontics in the Suntree, Viera, Rockledge, or Melbourne areas and your gums are feeling sore or tender, let us know during your next appointment. If you are a new patient considering braces, Invisalign or another orthodontic treatment, contact us to schedule your first appointment.