Healthy teeth require healthy gums. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque buildup and bacteria in the mouth. Gums can become inflamed and sore, and over time, they may recede and cause teeth to loosen. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent it.
1. Biannual Cleanings
Professional teeth cleaning at the dentist is the most effective way to prevent plaque from building up in the first place. Twice a year cleanings are normal, as this ensures that plaque doesn't have a chance to build up just under the gum line where the toothbrush is less effective at removal. For those that already have some signs of gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings.
2. Gum Checkups
In conjunction with regular cleanings, at least one annual dental checkup is a must. Your dentist will check the general health of your teeth, including finding and filling any cavities that house bacteria that can compromise gum health. If you already have a history of gum disease, your dentist may do a special periodontal checkup designed to measure the state of the gums and how deeply plaque is penetrating below the gum line. This gives the dentist the needed information to develop a cleaning and gum treatment plan.
3. At-Home Hygiene
Gum protection doesn't end at the dental office, one must continue to practice good hygiene at home. This generally involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day, although brushing after every meal is even more effective. Flossing is also necessary to remove food and plaque at the gum line -- your dentist or hygienist can show you the best way to floss. Your dentist may also recommend the use of a therapeutic mouthwash designed to support gum health and prevent plaque buildup.
4. Tooth Replacements
Missing teeth may not seem like a big deal, particularly if it's a molar that isn't easily visible. Unfortunately, empty gums can become a catch-all spot for bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to gum irritation and infection. In severe cases, the gum tissue can recede further, affecting the teeth on either side of the missing one. Having an implant replacement tooth put in can help preserve the gums, as long as proper hygiene is followed.
5. Habit Changes
Certain habits are more likely to cause gum issues. Smoking and tobacco use can inhibit healing and lead to more mouth bacteria, both issues that lead to gum disease. Poor dietary choices, such as eating a lot of sugary foods or dairy products that coat the teeth, can result in plaque buildup and receding gums. Your dentist can help you determine what habits you have that may be impacting gum health.
Contact a dentist to learn more about treating and avoiding gum diseases.