When it comes to oral health, many people tend to forget that looking after your gums is just as important as taking care of your teeth.

Kitchener dentist office of Sorin Boeriu DDS would like to take this opportunity to offer some advice on how to avoid a common medical problem – periodontal disease.

Periodontitis – often referred to simply as gum disease – is caused by bacterial plaque and tartar that become lodged between your teeth and gums, so a sound routine of oral hygiene is crucial to keep your gums in good condition.

Lifestyle changes – such as cutting down on sugary drinks and foods and stopping smoking – will also lessen the risk of colonies of bacteria gaining ground in your mouth.  Another measure to help prevent gum disease is to get regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings.

What is Periodontal Disease?

The initial stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, a result of the response of the body’s immune system to the microbes in plaque and tartar. This can lead to inflammation, swelling and bleeding of the gums.

Without treatment, gingivitis can advance to full-blown gum disease, which can cause serious issues such as tooth loss and gum recession as the structures supporting your teeth come under attack.

Plaque is a soft, sticky coating that’s home to millions of bacteria. It can calcify into the harder substance of tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional. Plaque, however, can be controlled with effective brushing and flossing.

Brushing and Flossing to Help Prevent Gum Disease

A sound routine of oral hygiene is a vital defence against gum disease. It prevents a build-up of plaque.

Your Kitchener dentist – Sorin Boeriu DDS recommends brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily to get rid of food particles and bacteria that can remain stuck between your teeth.

Brush your teeth – and tongue – in the morning and just before bed. Use a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste. An electric toothbrush can be particularly effective in helping to prevent gum disease – it stimulates blood circulation in your gums, which helps to prevent infection.

Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth. It’s the only way you can get rid of bits of food that get trapped between your teeth. Flossing once a day (just before bed is the best time) is sufficient for most people, but if you’re prone to gum problems, it is recommended that you floss in the morning as well.

Importance of a Balanced Diet to Keep Your Gums Healthy

Foods rich in starch and sugar increase the risk of plaque but a balanced diet will give you the nutrients essential to prevent gum disease, particularly vitamins C and A.  Studies also suggest that fruit and vegetables with antioxidants can reinforce the body’s capability of combating gum disease.

Some foods and drinks are especially beneficial in keeping your gums healthy. These include:

  • Yogurts, milk and cheese, which contain casein, a protein that fights the acids that attack gum tissue.
  • Apples and celery, which extricate particles of food from the gum line between your teeth.
  • Green and black teas, which contain antioxidants that help to stop plaque adhering to your teeth.

Another reason to maintain a balanced diet is the link between gum disease and obesity. Obese individuals are three times more likely to get gum disease than people of average weight.

Benefits of Regular Dental Check-Ups and Professional Cleanings

Dental check-ups every six months play a major role in keeping your gums healthy. Your dentist can see signs of gum disease that you may not have noticed yourself. The early stages of periodontitis can be painless and free of any other symptoms.

Check-ups also typically include a professional cleaning to eliminate plaque and tartar, which can build up despite regular flossing and brushing.

Toxins in Tobacco Attack Your Gums

If you smoke, the toxins in tobacco attack the soft tissue of your gums, making it easier for bacteria to spread and causing your gums to bleed or swell. Smoking is also associated with many other diseases, including heart and lung issues and cancer.

Smoking undermines your body’s defence system, which weakens your ability to ward off a gum infection. Once your gums become inflamed, smoking makes it more difficult for them to heal.

Am I More at Risk from Gum Disease?

While you can do a lot to help keep your gums healthy, it’s not always possible to avoid gum disease.

For instance, gums get weaker as we get older, and certain medical conditions and treatments increase the risk of periodontal disease.

If you suspect you may be developing gum disease, see your dentist or a periodontal specialist as soon as possible.