While most people think that it is only teeth that are responsible for making or breaking a beautiful smile, the gums also play an important role in the look and function of your smile. This is apparent when you consider the fact that healthy gums complement your teeth with a light coral color, while diseased gums can be red, swollen, or even bloody. Not only can infected gums negatively impact the look of your smile, but they can also cause tooth sensitivity and lead to missing teeth.
There are two forms of gum disease that your gums are at risk for. The first is the mild form known as gingivitis and the second is the advanced form known as periodontitis. Many people don’t realize that they even have gingivitis because it produces symptoms that are easy to miss. This unfortunately means that many cases of gum disease are not diagnosed until they have progressed to periodontitis. Once gum disease has progressed to periodontitis, it cannot be cured and can only be managed to prevent it from progressing further.
In order to keep your smile looking good and to prevent gum disease, it is important to pay attention to your gum health. Specifically, here are a few things you can do to improve or maintain your gum health:
Flossing removes plaque, bacteria, and food debris from places that your toothbrush misses, specifically in between your teeth and along the gum line. Since it is only recommended to floss once a day to prevent irritating the gums, the best time to floss is before bedtime and before brushing your teeth. Flossing before you brush your teeth allows the fluoride from your toothpaste to work its way into hard to reach areas. However, if you can’t floss before bedtime, anytime is fine as long as you floss at least once a day.
Brush Twice a Day
Brushing twice a day is not only important for your teeth, but for your gums as well. Brushing your teeth and scrubbing your tongue removes excess bacteria that are responsible for causing gum disease. In some cases, you may want to consider an electric toothbrush to help you remove more plaque. You should also be sure to switch out your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months. Finally, be sure to use a fluoridated toothpaste for additional protection.
Regular Dental Cleanings
In addition to your daily dental hygiene routine, you will also need to schedule a dental cleaning with your dentist every six months. Dental cleanings are essential because they allow your dental hygienist to remove plaque tartar deposits from areas that you may have missed during your daily routine. In fact, tartar can only be removed during professional dental cleanings. Furthermore, if you have gingivitis or periodontitis, dental cleanings are a key treatment.
There are certain over the counter mouthwashes that help to reduce plaque and slow down tartar development in order to reduce the risk of gingivitis. Although using mouthwash is not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing, rinsing your mouth after meals can help remove food particles and prevent plaque accumulation. If you are not sure whether mouthwash is right for you, ask your dentist at your next dental appointment.
Smoking causes all kinds of overall and oral health problems, so it should be no surprise that it can greatly increase the risk of developing gum disease. Not only that, but smoking weakens your immune system, which makes it easier for an infection to form and harder for your gums to heal.
Dr. Admar holds dual certificates — a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) in 2010 from India and a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in 2014 from Canada. He is now a full time practicing dentist in Kamloops where he provides a variety of services. Dr. Admar spends hundreds of hours in continued dental education to stay up to date in cosmetic and implant dentistry and he has achieved several advanced qualifications.