There’s more to oral hygiene than pearly, white teeth and staying cavity-free. It’s easy to overlook gum health, leaving yourself open to gum disease. Here are four ways to promote good gum health and protect yourself from gum disease.
Smoking is a leading cause of gum disease and can make it more difficult for damaged gums to heal. It’s also harder to fight off gum infections when you smoke, because smoking weakens the immune system. Let your gum health be just one more reason to kick the habit.
Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day
Though it might seem like obvious advice, brushing your teeth at least twice a day (or after every meal) helps clear away food and plaque between your teeth. Be sure to also scrub your tongue, as it can be a haven for bacteria.
Consider switching to an electric toothbrush. Electric and battery-powered toothbrushes help reduce plaque and gum disease more efficiently than a manual brush. Be sure to change out your toothbrush head or manual toothbrush every few months.
Use Floss and Mouthwash
Flossing at least once a day isn’t just something dentists like to tell you to do. No matter when you do it, flossing helps remove the plaque and food that your toothbrush can’t reach.
Similarly, using mouthwash daily can prevent gum disease by reducing plaque and slowing the development of tartar. Rinsing, just like flossing, can get to food and plaque beyond the reach of your toothbrush. However, rinsing and flossing are not substitutes for brushing your teeth – and they should be done in addition to brushing.
Get Dental Cleanings Regularly
Going to the dentist twice a year for dental cleaning is the only way to remove tartar and ensure your gum health. A cleaning will also take care of plaque in hard-to-reach areas. Gum disease is hard to detect on your own, but a dentist will be able to spot even the beginning stages easily and help you prevent damage.