When we talk about oral health, most people only think about teeth, but your teeth can’t be healthy without the tissue that supports and protects them: your gums! The bacteria that can damage your gums are the same ones that can damage your teeth, so a lot of the good-sense “healthy teeth” tips also apply to keeping your gums healthy.
Let’s run through seven of the most effective strategies for keeping your gums healthy, and you’ll see for yourself.
1. Give Your Gums a (Gentle) Brushing
Your teeth shouldn’t be brushed too hard, and if you can be a little gentler, there’s no harm in giving your gums a light brushing down too. A great many people brush their teeth too vigorously, and they don’t brush down to the gumline, because they’d hurt themselves if they did. Be gentler, and go all the way to the gums, even brushing the gums themselves to clear away bacteria.
No matter how carefully you brush, floss will still get into pockets you can’t reach with your toothbrush. If plaque accumulates there, you may inadvertently have created the perfect conditions for gum disease to develop. Work carefully and gently, and floss right in below the gums.
3. Use a Mouthwash That’s Approved by Dentists
Not all mouthwashes are good for your teeth. Some commercial products advertising fresher breath contain sugar. But if you choose a mouthwash that’s been formulated with oral health in mind, you can reach places where neither brush nor floss will go. Look out for antimicrobial mouthwashes that will kill off the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.
4. Avoid Tobacco
Smoking or chewing tobacco weakens your immune system and makes your gums susceptible to infections. There are many reasons to quit smoking or chewing tobacco, and this is just one of them. We know it’s hard to quit. Seek help from your doctor. He or she will help you with advice and medications that will make your task easier.
5. Cut Down on Sugar and Starch
We all know that sugar promotes the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay. These bacteria also cause gum disease. But a lot of people don’t realize that starchy foods are also bad for your teeth. While you probably do need some starch in your diet, you definitely don’t need refined sugar and if you’re eating the average diet, you’re probably getting more starch than you need to and can afford to cut back.
Also, your immune system fights off infections including gum infections, so remember to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
6. Be Alert for Gum Disease Symptoms
It’s amazing how many people think that gums that bleed easily are “normal.” They aren’t. If your gums tend to bleed after brushing your teeth, you may have a mild gum infection called gingivitis. If you leave that untreated, it can develop into destructive periodontitis that causes gums to recede and can ultimately lead to lost teeth.
7. Visit the Oral Hygienist
No matter how well you take care of your teeth at home, there’s nothing to beat a thorough, professional cleaning. Apart from leaving your teeth as clean as clean can be, professional cleaning also removes the build-up of hardened tartar that triggers gum disease. Wile you’re having your teeth cleaned, the dental professional who is taking care of them will also check for signs of gum disease.
Healthy Teeth Need Healthy Gums
While almost all the tips we’ve listed here are also applicable to keeping your teeth healthy, it’s worth remembering that your gums have a special role to play. Without healthy gums, you can’t have healthy teeth. When last did you have your teeth cleaned by a dentist or oral hygienist? Maybe it’s time to make that appointment now!