How to Prevent Gum Disease

Posted on: 29 August 2016

Preventative dentistry is the best approach for maintaining your oral health. With just a few minutes a day, you can reduce the likelihood of developing everything from bad breath to gum disease and gingivitis. There are many products on the market aimed at whitening teeth and freshening breath; however, the most important aspect of any good brushing routine should be the use of a product that actively kills bacteria and prevents it from building up on the teeth and gums. 

Periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease, can occur after a prolonged period where oral hygiene has not been maintained. It can easily be prevented. However, if not treated, it can cause recesses to form within the gum and under the teeth, which can collect food debris and harbour harmful bacteria. Gum disease can often cause the gums to recede or appear to shrink, making the teeth look long and thin with gaps between them. Eventually, this can affect the jawbone and lead to teeth becoming loose and eventually falling out.

The good news is that gum disease doesn't just happen overnight. It is preceded by a milder condition that is much easier to treat called gingivitis. If you've ever brushed your teeth and noticed any bleeding, that could be a sign of gingivitis (or brushing too hard). Often, the gums will become red, swollen and painful. This is why it's important to brush not just your teeth, both back and front, but also along the gum line. If you do suffer from gingivitis, it's comforting to know that the condition can be reversed.

Gingivitis is caused by a build-up of bacteria that coats the teeth with a slime-like film. You may have noticed, if you haven't brushed your teeth for a day or two, that they feel unnaturally smooth. The bacteria not only cause bad breath but can break down the enamel because of their acidity and can also stain teeth. 

It's important to brush regularly, ensuring that you cover each tooth in toothpaste. Be mindful that the molars at the back of your mouth and behind the teeth harbour lots of bacteria too, so focus a large amount of effort brushing the areas you can't see. Many people also forget the tongue, which itself is a major cause of bad breath and easily transfers microscopic food particles and bacteria to just about every part of the mouth. Specialist tongue scrapers can be purchased from both supermarkets and chemists; however, using your toothbrush is just as effective. Just be sure to rinse off the bristles occasionally to rinse away the bacteria. 

Following these simple tips and educating yourself on maintaining oral health is the best form of preventive dentistry and takes minimal effort.