It’s easy to take our teeth for granted. Maybe you think if you simply brush daily and head to the dentist once or twice a year, your teeth will be fine. However, there are many other ways to improve your oral health.
Here’s a closer look at some of the best dental care tips you can follow that go beyond brushing and routine dentist visits to help improve your overall oral health.
1. Skip the Sugar
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s important to avoid sugar as much as possible for better dental health. Sugary foods turn to acids in the mouth and can result in tooth decay.
2. Get Plenty of Calcium and Vitamin D
Since your teeth and gums are made of calcium, you need to make sure you’re getting enough calcium in your diet to keep them strong. Soybeans, cheeses and yogurts are great ways to get more calcium. Vitamin D is also important, since it helps your body absorb calcium.
3. Don’t Forget Vitamin C
When you think about oral health, you may not think of vitamin C, but a vitamin C deficiency can result in dental problems such as bleeding gums and loose teeth. Add some citrus to your diet or other foods high in vitamin C.
4. Add Foods to Your Diet That Promote Saliva Production
Saliva does a great job at battling the bacteria in your mouth, so it’s important to make sure your mouth is producing enough saliva. Eating certain foods — such as cranberries, lemons, cherries and limes — can promote saliva production. Drinking plenty of water can also help your mouth produce saliva.
5. Use Mouthwash After Meals
After eating, rinse your mouth with mouthwash. It not only kills germs, but it keeps the rest of the world from knowing if you had garlic or onions for dinner. If you don’t have mouthwash, rinsing with water can help in a pinch.
Brush twice a day, floss and try using some of these tips to improve your oral health. Don’t forget those routine dental visits for cleanings, checkups and other dental services, too.
Research shows a connection between your oral health and your overall health, so it’s essential to stay informed when it comes to caring for your teeth and gums. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dental myths circulating that may be hurting your dental health.
Here’s a look at some of the most common dental myths and the truths you need to know.
Myth No. 1 — You Can Skip the Flossing
The idea that flossing isn’t important is a common myth. Unfortunately, many people skip this extra step after brushing their teeth. The problem? Your toothbrush can’t reach the entire surface of the tooth. You’re missing nearly one-third of the tooth’s surface if you don’t floss. Bacteria building up between teeth can result in tooth decay, tooth pain and gum disease. Flossing is an easy, cheap way to improve your oral health.
Myth No. 2 — Dental Visits Are Painful
You’ll be glad to hear that this is just a myth. Dentists today practice comfort-conscious care, ensuring that you’re kept comfortable during dental procedures. In the past few decades, significant advances in dentistry make it easy to keep visits mostly pain-free. Scared of the dentist? Sedation dentistry is an option that can ease your mind.
Myth No. 3 — My Teeth or Gums Will Hurt When There’s a Problem
Many dental issues don’t cause pain until they become very serious. Then, you’re left with invasive, expensive treatment options. The key to keeping your mouth healthy is to catch any dental problems early — before they cause pain. This means keeping up with those biannual dental visits.
Myth No. 4 — Diet Drinks and Fruit Juices Are OK for Teeth
If you’re skipping sugary sodas, that’s great. However, fruit juices and diet drinks — while they may seem like a healthier option — are bad for teeth, too. Fruit juices have natural sugars and acids that can break down tooth enamel, cause gum disease, and cause tooth decay. Diet drinks may not have sugar, but they have acids that can erode your tooth enamel.
Myth No. 5 — Oral Cancer Isn’t That Dangerous
Oral Cancer will kill roughly 1 person per hour. Thousands of people will be diagnosed with oral cancer each year. Early detection is key to increasing the survival rate for oral cancer. As with all cancers, oral cancer is on the rise, but with early detection more people are being treated successfully.
Myth No. 6 — Oral Cancer Only Occurs in Smokers
While smoking has the ability to increase the risk of oral cancer, new research has found a link between oral cancer and HPV. Just because you’re not a smoker doesn’t mean you can’t end up with oral cancer. Dentists have equipment to detect oral cancers early, which is another reason to stick with those regular dental visits.
Myth No. 7 — I Don’t Need My Silver Fillings Replaced
You probably aren’t aware that a large percentage of those silver fillings are mercury, and mercury can leach out of the filling over time. Mercury has been linked to chronic diseases, neurological issues and autoimmune diseases. Thus, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist about replacing any silver fillings you may have.
Now that you know the truth behind some of the most common dental myths, it’s important to take preventive action to keep your oral health in great shape. If you live in Indiana, contact us today to schedule a dental appointment at our Schererville office.
While it is never fun for your dentist to discover that you have a cavity, it is fairly common to face tooth decay at one time or another. Plaque buildup is the leading cause of tooth decay, which occurs when a thin layer of sticky, colorless bacteria forms on the teeth. Whenever we consume sugary foods and beverages, these bacteria produce harmful acids in our mouth, which then begin to weaken and destroy the tooth’s hard outer surface. When plaque isn’t removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can progress through all layers of a tooth’s structure until a cavity, or hole, finally appears.
Signs of decay
If you suspect that you have tooth decay, have it checked out by your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you identify decay, the less extensive the damage and treatment likely will be. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may have tooth decay:
• Unusual tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks
• Persistent tooth pain
• Dark spots on teeth or discolored teeth
• Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
Cavity prevention is easy
The best defense against decay is excellent oral hygiene habits at home and routine visits to your dentist. By treating decay early, you can prevent more serious problems that require treatments such as fillings and even root canal therapy.
Simple ways to prevent tooth decay include the following:
• Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
• Floss daily to remove trapped food debris from between teeth and along the gum line.
• Rinse your mouth with water after eating.
• Visit your dentist twice a year for routine exams and professional cleanings.
• Stimulate saliva production between brushing by chewing gum, as saliva helps fight cavities by rinsing harmful materials from the mouth.
• Modify your diet to limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks.
If you are suffering from the painful symptoms of tooth decay, call Schererville Family Dentistry today. We can provide the treatment you need to combat cavities, stop pain and save your tooth!
In order to maintain a healthy mouth and a sparkling smile, you must build lasting oral hygiene habits — most of which start at home. These 10 simple tips can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for many years to come
1. Brush teeth twice a day.
No matter how busy life gets, make sure you prioritize tooth brushing. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day to prevent decay and gum disease. Diligent brushing will also help keep your breath fresh and your teeth stain-free.
2. Don’t forget to floss daily.
Like brushing, flossing is very important to oral health as it cleans problem areas where your toothbrush can’t reach. At a minimum, floss once a day to remove food particles and plaque buildup that collect between teeth and along the gum line.
3. Focus on proper brushing techniques.
Effective tooth brushing requires a full two minutes each time. Holding your brush at a 45-degree angle, use a gentle back and forth motion to clean the tooth. Repeat for each tooth until you have cleaned all surfaces of your teeth.
4. Quit using tobacco as soon as possible.
Smoking and other tobacco products aren’t just bad for your general health, they can also wreak havoc on your mouth. Stop using tobacco products now to prevent many serious health problems including oral cancer and gum disease.
5. Remember to replace your toothbrush.
Toothbrush bristles wear over time, so make sure you replace your brush at least every three months. You should also toss your brush and purchase a new one following an illness to prevent recontamination.
6. Eat a balanced diet.
The foods you consume on a daily basis impact more than your body — they impact your mouth as well. Green leafy vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and raw fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals to keep your mouth healthy and free from disease.
7. Say no to sugary treats.
You should make an effort to reduce how much sugar you eat. Sugar-filled foods and drinks play a significant role in the development of tooth decay. Eliminating them from your diet is a great way to avoid cavities and other dental problems.
8. Use the right toothbrush.
As a general rule, the best toothbrush is one that fits comfortably in your mouth and easily reaches all of your teeth. Most professionals recommend a soft-bristled brush with a small head for effective brushing. Electric toothbrushes are also excellent alternatives to manual brushes, especially for a person with limited dexterity.
9. Rinse your mouth.
Used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, mouthwash can be an effective way to help strengthen enamel, prevent the development of plaque, and fight gum disease. If you can’t get to your mouthwash, swishing with water after eating can also help dislodge food particles until you can brush.
10. Visit your dentist regularly.
Last but certainly not least, visit your dentist for twice-yearly cleanings and exams to help detect and prevent future problems. Always report dental problems to your dentist as soon as possible to avoid more serious issues and treatments.
Allow us to help you take the next step toward better oral hygiene. For professional cleanings, exams and tips on keeping your mouth healthy, visit us at our Schereville office. Call (219) 322-3232 today!
Most of us have faced a cavity or two at some point. These tiny holes on a tooth’s surface form when the tooth begins to decay. The hole can grow larger and deeper over time, a process of breaking down the tooth’s enamel. While cavities may seem inconvenient, it is critical that you have them filled by a dentist as soon as possible. Treating cavities early helps prevent long-term damage to the structure of teeth and is critical for maintaining good oral health.
Untreated cavities and health risks.
You may be tempted to delay treatment for a cavity, especially if you aren’t experiencing pain. Unfortunately, improved brushing won’t repair decay — and as your cavity gets larger, so does the risk for other health problems.
Increased sensitivity, pain and swelling are all symptoms of deep, untreated cavities. As the cavity grows deeper, the nerve of the tooth can get infected, and a root canal may be required to save the tooth. If damage to the nerve is too extensive, extracting the tooth may be your only option.
Cavity treatment is easy.
If you suspect that you have a cavity, the best thing you can do is get it filled by your dentist immediately. Treating a cavity as soon as it begins to form is a quick and virtually painless procedure thanks to modern dentistry, but can be far more complex if you ignore it.
Filling a cavity involves the following easy steps under the gentle care of your dentist.
The area surrounding the decayed tooth is numbed by the dentist using a numbing agent.
The dentist will gently remove the infected portion of the tooth.
Once the decay is removed, the dentist will fill the tooth with a special filling material, such as composite-resin or porcelain.
In just a few hours, the effects of the numbing agent will disappear, leaving you with a healthy, natural-looking tooth and restored oral health.
Prevention is key.
Ultimately, your best option is to prevent cavities before they develop. Since most cavities are caused by sugars and bacteria in the mouth, you can play a vital role in protecting your teeth and gums from harmful decay by taking better care of your teeth at home. Brush and floss regularly with fluoride toothpaste, and limit sugary foods and drinks that create plaque in the mouth. These simple at-home improvements combined with regular visits to your dentist will go a long way to prevent cavities from forming in the first place.
Don’t Wait — Contact Schererville Family Dentistry Today!
Bottom line: The longer you put off treatment for your cavity, the more painful and complex it becomes. Contact Schererville Family Dentistry at the first sign of decay for quick and easy cavity fillings. Even better, avoid cavities altogether by practicing excellent oral hygiene and visiting our office for routine cleanings and exams.
When you look in the mirror and smile, don’t be alarmed if a set of stained, discolored teeth smiles back at you. Unfortunately, many of us will experience some degree of tooth discoloration over the years.
The good news is that discolored teeth are common and typically easy to correct. Your dentist can help you find the right whitening treatment to brighten your teeth by several shades. In the meantime, follow these simple steps for preventing and reducing unwanted tooth stains.
What is causing your tooth stains?
Most types of stains are extrinsic, meaning they affect only the outer tooth enamel. Extrinsic stains can be removed fairly easily. Other types of discoloration may be intrinsic, which affects the inner structure of the tooth, also known as the dentin. Teeth with intrinsic discoloring are not as easily corrected.
There are many factors that can contribute to tooth stains, including:
Foods and drinks: Coffee, tea, soda, red wine, soy sauce, tomato sauce and berries are common offenders of tooth stains.
Poor dental hygiene: Stain-causing substances left on teeth due to inadequate brushing and flossing can eventually lead to tooth discoloration.
Natural aging process: Teeth may naturally yellow or change colors with age as enamel thins and wears.
Tobacco use: Smoking and chewing tobacco can make teeth appear yellowed and dingy over time.
Disease and medications: Certain diseases and medications can lead to discoloration of your teeth.
Trauma: Discoloration of a tooth may appear following an injury.
Can I prevent my teeth from staining?
Many surface stains on the teeth can be easily prevented with simple lifestyle changes. Brush and floss after every meal to reduce the build-up of stain-producing foods on the teeth. If you’re a coffee lover, wine enthusiast or smoker, consider cutting back or stopping altogether to reduce stains. Most importantly, visit your dentist regularly for routine cleanings to remove tough stains from the surface of teeth.
What treatments are available to whiten my teeth?
When changes to your lifestyle and at-home remedies aren’t enough, your dentist can provide advanced whitening treatments for dramatic, long-lasting whitening results. One option, at-home whitening trays, allows patients to conveniently whiten their teeth from the comfort of their home. After being custom fitted for trays by the dentist, patients will wear the trays with a bleaching gel each day as prescribed. Over the course of several days, patients will notice whiter teeth and a brighter smile as stains disappear.
If you desire nearly instant results, you may benefit from professional, in-office teeth whitening. This safe and highly effective treatment involves applying a special whitening agent to the teeth. The whitening solution is activated by a light to accelerate the whitening process. In-office whitening is ideal for busy patients looking for immediate results and dramatically whiter teeth in as little as one visit to our office.
Professional cleanings help keep teeth white!
At Schererville Family Dentistry, we can help you maintain white, stain-free teeth through professional cleanings. Combined with at-home care, a regularly scheduled cleaning is one of the best ways to remove stain-causing substances from your teeth.
Cleanings are quick and comfortable at one of our two office locations — not to mention a critical part of maintaining good dental health for a lifetime. Call (219) 322-3232 today!
When you think about losing a tooth, you may think back to wiggling a baby tooth in the hopes that it would fall out sooner and summon a gift from the tooth fairy. Childhood tooth loss is a crucial developmental step toward a healthy adult smile, but it’s not the only type of tooth loss that may occur.
While dental advances have made adult tooth loss less likely now than it has ever been before, many adults must come to terms with a gap in their smile.
In this blog, we discuss the common causes of adult tooth loss, how adults may replace missing teeth, and why prompt replacement is crucial for good dental health.
What Are the Common Causes of Adult Tooth Loss?
Adult tooth loss can happen to anyone. However, tooth loss disproportionately affects individuals who are over 65 years old, who are smokers, who live under the poverty line, or who are black or Hispanic.
These demographics are not causes of tooth loss but rather contributors. For example, age and smoking can weaken teeth, and those living under the poverty line, a group often including minorities, may have fewer dental and medical resources to combat the damage.
In adults, tooth loss rarely consists of wiggling the offending tooth back and forth. Adults are more likely to lose their teeth in the following ways:
Dental extraction, which becomes necessary when a tooth is damaged or infected beyond repair and could harm the teeth around it, oral soft tissues, or the jaw
An impact injury, such as would occur due to an airbag deploying in a car accident and dislodging teeth that are compromised by poor dental care
What Options Do Adults Have to Replace Missing Teeth?
In dental emergencies where a tooth is knocked out, a skilled dentist may be able to restore the natural tooth. In order for this procedure to be performed, the patient must see a dentist within an hour of the incident. The tooth must still have all tissue and the root attached and preferably should be untouched.
In most cases, however, simply returning the tooth to its socket is not an option. Instead, patients may be offered the following replacement solutions.
Dental implants consist of a strong titanium screw and a cosmetic crown. To put in the implant, a dentist places the screw in the jaw bone and attaches the crown to the screw’s anchor.
Dental implants may work better when a patient has lost only one tooth and wants the most natural-looking and natural-feeling replacement.
Partial dentures consist of one or more false teeth that either fit into the mouth like a dental retainer or are anchored to the teeth around them. In cases of extensive tooth loss, complete dentures would be used instead.
Dentures are usually used to replace multiple teeth but may be the preferred alternative if the patient does not have adequate gum health or jaw-bone strength to support implants.
The right replacement method for you depends on the extent of your tooth loss, your current oral health, your medical history, and your budget. Consult with your dentist to determine your best option.
Why Is Prompt Replacement So Important?
When a child loses a tooth, the new tooth usually begins to erupt soon afterward, filling the gap. When an adult loses a tooth, the gap must be filled with a false tooth as soon as possible. Lost teeth can change your appearance and the functionality of your mouth.
Adult tooth loss can cause the following issues:
Facial collapse—Loss of the front teeth changes the shape and muscle tone of the face. Individuals may exhibit sunken cheeks and a shorter facial profile.
Increased risk of future tooth loss—When an adult tooth is lost, the new opening exposes the enamel and roots of the teeth on either side of the gap. Many individuals with missing teeth that go unreplaced will experience future tooth loss.
Lower jaw-bone density—Bones stay strong through use. When a tooth is lost, that section of the jaw bone no longer receives stimulation, and the lack of stimulation can change the composition of the bone.
Misalignment—Without a false tooth to fill in the gap in your smile, your teeth may shift due to your altered bite alignment.
Reduced chewing capability—Dental experts estimate that each lost tooth reduces a patient’s chewing ability by 10 percent.
Unclear speech—Depending on which teeth you are missing, the gaps in your smile may also create impediments to your speech.
If you have gaps in your smile, consult with your dentist. Choosing a high-quality tooth replacement can get your dental health back on track and restore your bright, confident grin.
Whether you just had a dental cavity filled or just wish you flossed more consistently, you may realize that you aren’t satisfied with your oral hygiene routine. This realization can come at any age and shouldn’t be a cause for embarrassment but rather a call to action.
To improve your oral hygiene overall, you’ll need to take small steps that build lasting good habits. Start with these five steps toward a more effective oral hygiene routine.
Consult With Your Dentist
The first step in an effort toward better oral health should always be a trip to the dentist. During your next regular dental cleaning and exam, ask if you can address some of your concerns with your dentist.
Your dentist can make oral hygiene recommendations based on the current health and strength of your teeth, as well as the condition of your oral soft tissues. This consultation can prove vital during the next step of determining where your oral hygiene routine habits are weakest because you’ll already have a professional’s insight.
Determine Your Weak Points
Lasting changes start with small, manageable changes rather than complete overhauls. Give yourself some time to sit down and honestly determine which of your oral hygiene habits are the weakest.
Do you sometimes forget to brush your teeth on the way out the door? Do you skip flossing more often than you do it? Does your sugary diet undermine all the hard work you do when brushing and flossing? Once you’ve determined where your routine is weakest, make a plan to address that area specifically.
For example, to address the specific hypothetical problems we brought up, you could put two minutes for brushing your teeth on your daily calendar page. To improve flossing, make a goal to floss once more a week than you currently do and increase the number of sessions each week. Start reducing the amount of harmful foods you consume one at a time.
Make the Whole Day Part of Your Routine
While it’s obviously essential to put in the time to brush and floss thoroughly, you can also begin other habits to keep your teeth healthier overall. To make your average day better for your teeth, your habit changes could include:
Avoiding food and beverages other than water before you go to bed
Chewing sugar free gum after you eat to reduce the amount of food particles that stick to your teeth
Drinking more water to encourage natural saliva production and wash away food particles
Altering your diet to include more tooth-friendly foods can also ensure that your daily activities support a healthy smile. Start with the recommendations in our previous blog, “4 Cavity-Free Cooking Tips.”
Replace Your Toothbrush and Other Tools
For many individuals, their best efforts toward better oral hygiene are undermined by poor-quality tools. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months, as well as after a viral or bacterial illness. If you haven’t replaced your toothbrush in a while, start fresh.
Choosing equipment that works for you personally can improve the quality of your oral hygiene dramatically. Use your dentist’s recommendations to decide on your brush bristle hardness. You may even want to consider using an electronic toothbrush.
Similarly, if you struggle using traditional floss, handheld “flossers” may be more comfortable for you. If you have particularly sensitive gums, you may even decide to try water flossing. Finding the right combination of at-home dental tools for your comfort and specific health needs ensures that your oral hygiene sessions are as effective as possible.
During your dental consultation, your dentist may also recommend adding a mouthwash or a fluoridated product to your routine to supplement your usual brushing and flossing.
Time Your Brushing Sessions
One of the most common problems with inadequate oral hygiene routines in adults is that the individuals just don’t spend enough time brushing. Use a stopwatch to time one of your usual brushing sessions. If you come in at less than two minutes, start improving your oral hygiene by setting aside more time.
Set a timer when you brush to ensure that you don’t skimp or skip potentially neglected oral surfaces like the insides of your teeth, your tongue, and your gums. If you have trouble maintaining focus, pick a song that’s approximately two minutes and make it your new oral hygiene jam.
As you designate a small amount of time each morning and each evening for your teeth, you train yourself to include this full routine in your everyday schedule. It may take some time to build up the habit, but being consistent can ensure that you automatically prioritize your oral health for many days, weeks, and years to come.
Use these steps and the recommendations of your dentist to feel confident that you’re doing everything necessary to achieve your best smile.
Unfortunately, even though basic oral hygiene should be straightforward, many people are still misinformed about the importance of regular dental care and proper brushing and flossing. Once you know the facts about dental health, you’ll be on the path to excellent dental health for years to come.
Here are some common dental myths that will keep you from choosing the best care for your teeth.
Myth: My Gums Bleed, So I Should Not Floss
This is a common myth, and it is very damaging. When gums bleed during brushing and flossing, it’s a sign of the early stages of gum disease. Gums start to bleed because oral health has been neglected.
So, the best solution is not to stop flossing or brushing but is to make flossing and brushing daily a priority. In the early stages of gum disease, the gums can recover. If you keep putting off good tooth and gum care, the disease can progress and could require expensive restorative dentistry.
The easiest way to fix bleeding gums is to keep them clean.
Myth: My Teeth Don’t Hurt, So I Don’t Need to See the Dentist
Many people think that they need to see the dentist only when something is wrong. However, if you put off seeing the dentist until you’re in pain, the necessary dental work will be much more extensive and costly.
Cavities do not usually hurt. A cavity is preliminary tooth decay that breaks through the hard outer enamel and starts eating away at the softer dentin inside your tooth. You will not feel any pain until the decay reaches the nerve (or root) of the tooth. At this point, a simple filling will not solve the problem. You will need a root canal to save your tooth.
Seeing your dentist regularly (usually every six months) for cleaning and x-rays helps to catch cavities when they are small. Proactive dental care is much safer and much more affordable for your oral health.
Myth: Children’s Teeth Just Fall Out, So Dental Care Is Not Needed
Primary teeth, also known as milk or baby teeth, are actually essential for the future of your child’s dental health. Care for early primary teeth is important because:
Primary teeth mark the path for adult teeth. If a primary tooth is not cared for, it may decay so badly it will need to be pulled. Pulling out primary teeth sets a child up to have a crooked smile later in life because the primary teeth provide spacing and growth direction for permanent teeth.
Caring for primary teeth forges the habit to properly care for permanent teeth. Good dental-care habits are learned early. It can be difficult to teach an older child to respect their adult teeth when they never learned to respect their earlier teeth.
Neglecting tooth care can lead to infection. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for toddlers and young children to have decay so advanced that an abscess develops. These dental infections are very serious, and when they are untreated, they can spread to other parts of the body, including the bones and the brain. Good brushing and flossing will prevent this type of infection from ever developing.
Care for primary teeth puts your child on the path of good dental health for the rest or his or her life.
Myth: Brushing Harder Will Clean My Teeth Better
With all the emphasis placed on the importance of brushing well and often, many people over-brush. While brushing hard may give you the feeling that you are cleaning your teeth better, in reality hard brushing only serves to damage the gums.
Your gum tissue is delicate and soft. With repeated rough strokes over the gum line, the tissue becomes aggravated, and it will start to recede, exposing the root of the tooth. Your teeth will become more sensitive to hot and cold. They’ll also be more prone to infection and decay.
With extreme recession, you will need restorative work like gum grafts to help replace the lost gum line.
Instead of brushing hard, take care to use gentle, diagonal strokes to clean the teeth without aggravating the gums. Set a timer for two minutes. Soft brushing for the full two minutes will leave your mouth sparkling clean without any negative side effects.
Myth: It’s Normal to Lose Teeth with Age
In decades past, it was common for seniors to lose their teeth. However, with current dental care and awareness, there is no reason why a healthy individual should lose their teeth with age. Proper dental care and good dietary practices during youth and young adulthood can ensure the survival of all your teeth.
Some medical problems can, however, lead to premature tooth loss. For example, those with acid reflux or specific medications can experience a higher rate of tooth loss.
Most people know the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth. But they might neglect caring for another important part of their mouths: their gums.
Gums are tissues that anchor your teeth to your mouth. They also protect your teeth from shock and damage. But just as bacteria can cause your teeth to decay, they can also cause damage to your gums.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your gums from damage and disease.
Brush Your Gums
We say “brush your teeth” but we should really say “brush your teeth and gums.” You should give your gums and gumline a thorough brushing to remove bacteria and the food particles that attract bacteria. But it’s important not to harm your gums when you brush them.
Many people brush using a rough, back-and-forth motion, which can actually hurt the teeth and gums. A better way to brush is to gently wiggle your toothbrush in a circular motion. This motion is a more effective way to clean your gums and gumline.
An electric toothbrush mimics this brushing motion and is a better choice to protect your teeth and gums.
Flossing removes particles that hide in between the teeth and at the gumline. If you don’t remove them, they can cause damage to both your teeth and your gums.
Along with flossing between the teeth, make sure to reach the space in between each tooth and the gums. Curve the floss into a “C” shape to gently floss in the small pocket above the tooth.
If you haven’t flossed for a while, your gums might bleed. You can prevent bleeding by moving the floss slowly and gently. Don’t snap the floss into your gums. Ribbon floss is softer than nylon or plastic and is less likely to cause bleeding.
Mouthwash doesn’t just freshen your breath. It contains fluoride and antimicrobial agents that discourage plaque and tartar and prevent gum disease. Some mouthwashes are more powerful than others. Choose a therapeutic mouthwash that’s approved by the American Dental Association.
Avoid Smoking and Chewing
Cigarettes and tobacco are a direct cause of gum disease. Using them can cause your immune system to decline, making it harder for your immune system to prevent gum infections. People who smoke frequently or who have smoked for a long time have a greater risk of gum disease. Seek out a program in your area that can give you the support you need to quit smoking or chewing.
Foods high in sugar and starch encourage bacteria growth, leading to plaque and gum disease. Harmful foods include many items you might expect, such as soda, candy, pastries, chips, and French fries. They also include some foods you might not expect, such as pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and potatoes.
Eating nutritious foods supplies your body with vitamins that protect your gums from disease and decay. Eat vegetables and fruits, healthy fats like butter and olive oil, and healthy proteins like beans, chicken, and fish.
Watch for Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a potentially dangerous infection. When only your gums are infected, the disease is called gingivitis. When the infection spreads into your bone, it’s known as periodontitis.
You develop gum disease when bacteria start to eat at your teeth and gums, leaving plaque behind. When plaque stays on your teeth, it causes your gums to swell and become inflamed.
Look for symptoms of gum disease, such as:
Receding gumline (your gums look smaller than they used to)
Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
If you notice any of these signs, set an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will perform a deep cleaning on and under your gumline. He or she will scrape a hard buildup called tartar from your gums. If your teeth are loose, your dentist can smooth your tooth roots to help reattach them to the gums.
Your dentist might prescribe something to treat your symptoms, including an oral medicine, an antibiotic gel, or a slow-release medicinal gel.
If these treatments don’t work, your dentist might recommend surgery. Through gum graft surgery, your dentist removes tissue from your mouth and uses it to cover your tooth roots. Through flap surgery, your dentist lifts your gums to remove tartar from under your gum line.
Get Regular Dental Cleanings
Twice-yearly dental cleanings play a crucial part in preventing gum disease. Dental hygienists use advanced cleaning techniques to remove plaque and tartar. Dentists also look closer at your mouth and gums to spot any signs of gum disease before it gets worse.
Follow these steps and keep your gums healthy and disease-free. If you’re due for a dental cleaning, call Schererville Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment.