Caring for your gums is just as important as drinking enough water and getting regular exercise – in fact, it should be a part of your daily routine. Why? The condition of your gums doesn’t just affect your smile. It can also have a huge impact on your health. If you’re worried about your gums (or just want to make sure they’re as healthy as they could be) check out our expert tips.
What is Gum Disease?
Inflamed, swollen, sore or infected gums are relatively common, but you should still take these symptoms seriously. The first signs of gum disease include bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, an unpleasant taste in your mouth and bad breath. This early stage is known as gingivitis. If left untreated, a more serious condition called periodontitis can develop, damaging the gum tissues that support your teeth and hold them in place.
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. Some of the bacteria in plaque are harmful to gums, and allowing plaque to build up can irritate them and lead to redness, bleeding, swelling and soreness. Gum disease doesn’t usually cause pain as it gets worse, so you won’t necessarily notice the damage it’s doing. But a dentist or doctor will be able to tell you if you have gum disease just by looking in your mouth.
Preventing Gum Disease
If your gums are bleeding when you brush your teeth, make an appointment with your dentist, who will be able to assess the severity of your gum disease. In most cases, your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to give your teeth a thorough cleaning, remove any hardened plaque and advise you on gum disease prevention.
To treat mild cases of gingivitis, make sure to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and remember to floss regularly with Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean floss, which slides up to 50 percent more easily in tight spaces vs. the leading floss.
For a thoroughly deep clean, consider investing in an electric toothbrush – our pick is the Oral-B Pro 6000. It removes up to 300 percent more plaque along the gum line vs. a regular manual toothbrush and contains a pressure sensor that lights up if you brush too hard.
Making Regular Dental Check-Ups
Scheduling regular dental appointments (usually once every six months) can help your dentist detect and treat any problems with your teeth and gums early, before any irreversible damage occurs. You may need to visit your dentist more frequently than twice a year if you’ve had problems with gum disease in the past, or if you have a higher risk for gum problems (e.g., you smoke or have diabetes). Check with your dentist to be sure.
Caring for Your Gums in Between Appointments
Keeping up with good habits and shedding bad ones can go a long way toward keeping your gums and teeth healthy. Smoking, which can cause gum disease as well as oral cancer, is a big no-no. If you have a sweet tooth, try to eat fewer sugary foods and drinks, as the bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar, creating acid that contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. And in addition to following the tooth- and gum-cleaning regimen above, try using Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection mouthwash, which kills germs, reduces plaque, helps prevent gingivitis and freshens bad breath.
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