When we think of oral hygiene, our thoughts first land on beautiful, straight and cavity-free pearly whites. However, healthy gums are just as important for maintaining good hygiene and a gleaming smile. Gum diseases, such as Gingivitis and Periodontitis, are caused by significant plaque build-up along and under the gum line. Plaque contains high amounts of bad bacteria which causes infections to occur in and around the bones and gums which hold the teeth in place. Gingivitis is a milder gum disease which causes the gums to swell and bleed. Gingivitis can be treated and long term damage can be avoided. Periodontitis is far more severe and damages the bone that holds the teeth in place, causing irreparable damage. This is reason enough to ensure good gum care is part of your daily oral care regimen.
How to get, and maintain, healthy gums:
Flossing is the number one gum disease prevention method. It is a cheap way to remove plaque from the gums, which stops the bacteria in plaque from causing any damage. Flossing after every meal is ideal, however, studies have proven that flossing once a day – morning, noon, or night – is sufficient enough to maintain healthy gums.
- Dental Cleaning
Visiting a dentist twice a year will decrease the risk of gum disease. A dentist will be able to recognise the early symptoms of gum disease and stop it from developing before it causes any harm to the gums. Tartar forms when plaque builds up and hardens. The dentist will be able to remove tartar along with any loose plaque you may have missed when flossing and brushing.
What you put into your mouth has a direct effect on oral hygiene. While it is obvious that sugary foods should be avoided, there are foods you can eat that will improve the state of your gums.
- Dairy products, such as cheese and milk, contain high amounts of casein. Casein is a protein which neutralises the acidity of the mouth and, more importantly, neutralises the acids produced by plaque.
- An apple a day can keep the dentist away too. The constant chewing motion which occurs while chewing on an apple encourages saliva production and cleanses the gums. The apple then removes the loose plaque from the gums and aids in getting the stubborn plaque to move. This rule applies for other leafy greens and fibre packed food that takes a long time to chew and break down.
- Brush Twice a Day
An old rule, but a good one to follow. It is important to remember to brush the gums, inside of the cheeks, and tongue when brushing your teeth in order to ensure the entire mouth is free from bacteria.
- Rinse with Mouthwash
Mouthwash pulls the plaque, which has been loosened up by prior flossing and brushing, from between the teeth.
- Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste is the number one toothpaste for killing bad bacteria in the mouth and ensuring good gum care.
Do not: smoke, eat sugary foods, go to sleep without brushing your teeth, or neglect the gums when brushing your teeth if you want to avoid gum disease.
Our gums are important because they hold our teeth in place, and gum disease can be incredibly painful, so always ensure your teeth and gums are cleaned well, regardless of the method you choose to clean them.