Have you ever spit blood into the sink after brushing? Have you noticed that your gums look redder than usually, maybe even “puffy?” These are symptoms of gum disease, and they’re no joke.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissue due to a buildup of plaque, which includes dangerous mouth bacteria. Starting as painless inflammation, this disease can advance quickly, leading to gum recession, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss. Worse, it doesn’t just affect your mouth. Research suggests that advanced gum disease can significantly increase your risk of developing serious illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.
Because of these serious complications, fighting gum disease is that much more important, and the best prevention starts are home. Here’s a list of four methods that will keep your mouth safe.
Brush Those Teeth
Plaque isn’t just disgusting gunk you find on your teeth, it’s living bacteria that can eventually lead to gum disease. To get rid of plaque, the American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day to keep your mouth healthy.
Proper technique is to brush for a full two minutes, or two rotations of “happy birthday,” using a forty-five degree angle to address both your teeth and gums. Consider using the timer on your phone the next time you’re brushing to ensure you’re doing it long enough.
Don’t Forget the Floss
Brushing is incredibly important, but an oral hygiene routine isn’t complete without flossing. That’s because, unfortunately, your toothbrush can’t do all the work. It can’t get between your teeth. To floss correctly, use between 15 and 24 inches of floss, wrap the ends around your index and middle fingers, hold tightly, and insert on both sides of a tooth, gently dipping below the gum line.
Eat Less Sugar
Bacteria’s number one food source is starch and sugar, and when it gets these in excess, it produces more plaque. The equation is pretty simple: limiting foods high in sugar can limit the amount of plaque that forms in our mouths.
Make Regular Dental Visits
One of the most important steps to avoiding gum disease can’t be done at home, and that’s regular cleanings and checkups. Gum disease doesn’t happen overnight, it slowly progresses until it reaches a point where it can cause serious damage. By regularly seeing your dentist, you can spot gum disease early, and treat it effectively.