You may not realize it, but your mouth is fighting a constant battle, and your brushing and flossing habits may be affecting that battle.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is usually painless and progresses slowly. But it can become more serious before you even notice any problems. If left untreated, it can cause your gums and bone structure to deteriorate, eventually resulting in tooth loss.
Cavity-causing bacteria is in your mouth all the time. Other times, they’re introduced through foods and drinks. You can help remove these organisms by brushing and flossing regularly.
However, if you don’t brush and floss properly, a thin film of bacteria, called plaque, will start growing on the teeth and surrounding gums. The bacteria produce acid that eats away at your teeth and gums, leading to inflammation and cavities.
Plaque irritates your gums, and eventually, the gum recedes from the tooth, forming pockets where even more bacteria can collect. If not addressed, the condition worsens. Bacteria move down the root of the tooth, destroying bone and causing tooth loss.
While you’ll need regular dental exams to remove tartar and detect early signs of gum disease, you can help keep your mouth healthy by caring for your teeth and gums at home. Here are some habits you can start today to prevent gum disease and keep your teeth for a lifetime:
Say no to gum disease with these helpful tips.
Although a regular brushing and flossing routine will reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth, dentists and dental hygienists have specialized tools and techniques to remove tartar, a hardened form of plaque that may have built up on your teeth.
Regular exams can also help your dentist monitor your oral health and identify and prevent problems before they get worse.
During your next dental visit, discuss these questions with your dentist:
Contact your dentist immediately if you experience any warning signs of gum disease such as red, swollen or tender gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, gums that pull away from teeth, loose or separating teeth or persistent bad breath.
Certain medications can aggravate gum disease, including oral contraceptives, antidepressants and heart medicines. If you’re taking any medications that increase your risk of gum disease, talk to your dentist. Always let your dentist know what medications you’re taking.
Last updated December 22, 2022
The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.