10 Tips for Saving Teeth from Gum Disease
Learn about oral care steps and lifestyle changes that can help protect against tooth loss from gum disease.
If you don’t take proper care of your teeth, an excess of bacteria in your mouth could lead to and inflammatory condition known as gum disease. In its early stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis, a condition characterized by red, swollen, and painful gums that may bleed when touched. If gum disease is not treated at this stage, it could progress to an advanced form of the disease known as periodontitis. At this stage, inflammation spreads below the gum line, eventually causing gums to recede. This exposes the roots of the teeth to bacteria, and the resulting infection may cause the need for a root canal or even an extraction.
Periodontitis is one of the top two causes of tooth loss among American adults, but it is entirely preventable with proper dental care. Here are 10 tips that can help you improve your dental care and oral health to help save teeth from being compromised by gum disease.
1. Brush Your Teeth. Keeping teeth clean is essential for preventing and controlling gum disease. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice per day. You should also take care to brush your tongue to prevent bacteria from hiding there.
2. Floss Daily. Brushing alone is not sufficient to remove plaque bacteria from those hard-to-reach places between teeth. That’s why you need to floss daily, using proper technique to reach between teeth and beneath the gum line.
3. Use Mouthwash. Rinsing with mouthwash once per day is another way to help keep plaque under control. However, be aware that most mouthwashes fight plaque by removing their food source or even by dislodging the plaque from teeth, but they do not actually kill the bacteria in the plaque.
4. Rinse with Hydrogen Peroxide. If you want to kill bacteria, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide can help. However, you must be careful not to swallow any of the liquid when rinsing.
5. Stop Smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes and e-cigarettes can reduce blood flow to the gums, which will make it harder to beat gum disease infections. By quitting smoking, you can promote healthier gums and therefore healthier teeth.
6. Manage Your Blood Sugar. Uncontrolled blood glucose levels can also impair the body’s natural ability to recover from an infection such as gingivitis or periodontitis. If you have diabetes, be careful to watch your diet and your blood sugar closely.
7. Drink Green Tea. Some research has indicated a link between green tea and improved oral health. Green tea contains compounds that are thought to help control inflammation and fight bacterial infection.
8. Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin C. Another way to help fight inflammation in the mouth and throughout the body is by eating foods rich in antioxidants. Vitamin C is an especially good antioxidant to focus on because it has been shown to boost the immune system and promote connective tissue and bone growth.
9. Get Routine Cleanings. While proper oral care at home is important, you also need to schedule at least one and preferably two routine cleanings with your dentist. A professional dental cleaning is the best way to remove tartar and keep it from contributing to gum disease.
10. Get Professional Gum Disease Treatment. If you already have gum disease, your dentist may recommend a special deep cleaning treatment to help you recover. This treatment is called a scaling and root planning treatment, and it helps clean gum pockets to prevent bacteria from attacking the roots of teeth.