Ways to Avoid Gum Disease: Did you know that gum disease — not old age — is the leading cause of tooth loss? Gum disease progresses slowly and is usually painless so it can easily reach an advanced stage before you’re even aware of it.
Also called periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria and plaque, a colorless film that sticks to your teeth and eventually hardens into tartar. The result is inflammation that can destroy the tissue and bone supporting the teeth.
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In advanced stages of gum disease, affected teeth may loosen and fall out. While regular dental exams enable your dentist to remove tartar and detect early signs of gum disease you can play a major role in preventing tartar from forming.
It’s simple — brush for 2–3 minutes at least twice a day, using a flouridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Be sure to brush along the gum line. Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or as soon as the bristles are worn or bent, A worn-out toothbrush doesn’t clean your teeth properly and can actually injure your gums.
Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. Use a mouth rinse, which can reduce plaque by up to 20%. Avoid cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, which may contribute not only to gum disease but to oral cancer.
Because medication, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants and heart medicines, can aggravate gum disease, be sure to let your dentist know when you’re taking any kind of medication. Eat a healthy diet which provides the nutrients necessary to prevent gum disease, particularly vitamins A and C.
Good habits can help prevent gum disease — and that’s something to smile about.