When people think about their oral health, the first thing that comes to mind is teeth. Of course, we all want a beautiful smile with white, straight teeth, but did you know that keeping your gums healthy is just as important?
Keeping your mouth healthy is essential to keeping your entire body healthy, as recent studies have demonstrated. Poor oral health has been linked to a variety of systemic issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (you can read more about the oral-system link here).
The Hidden Dangers of Gum Disease
Gum disease starts simply enough as plaque builds up on the teeth on and around the gums. This plaque is filled with bacteria (and your mouth is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria) that can lead to enamel loss, infection, decay, and more.
There are different stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis (You don’t want this, but it’s treatable)
- Periodontal disease (You really don’t want this, as it can affect the bone surrounding your teeth)
- Advanced periodontal disease (This is nearly total deterioration of your mouth, and significant surgery will be required to fix it.)
While gingivitis itself is relatively harmless and treatable without major surgery, it can progress to a more advanced state of gum disease, which is just one of many reasons that you should be visiting the dentist on a routine basis.
So, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Gums that are swollen or tender
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
- Teeth that feel loose
- Chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away, no matter how much mouthwash you use)
We strongly recommend that you visit a dentist as soon as possible, and if you happen to be in the Alpharetta area of North Atlanta, then we invite you to schedule your appointment by calling our office.
Without further ado, here are five checkpoints or guardrails that you can use to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and avoid periodontal disease and the costly treatments that are associated with it!
1 Establish a Consistent Brushing and Flossing Routine
The daily habits that you create for yourself can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Regarding your oral health, establishing a consistent, easy to follow brushing and flossing routine is essential.
The bottom line is that you should be brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Here is an easy, popular routine that you can follow to keep your teeth and gums healthy between visits.
Brush in the morning for approximately two minutes (do it after you eat breakfast, if possible). You should try to spend an equal amount time in each area of your mouth, and make sure to brush gently so that you do not damage your gums or teeth enamel.
Brush again before going to bed, following the guidelines. While some people prefer to floss in the morning (which is fine), flossing before bed protects against falling asleep with food particles in your mouth, where they will have hours to “fester” (yes, that’s gross).
This isn’t difficult, but it does take discipline to do it every day without compromise!
2 Use Mouthwash
While mouthwash should never replace brushing or flossing, it’s a nice supplement to add to your daily oral hygiene routine. You can use just about any mouthwash that is available over the counter.
Here is a full list of dental products that have the ADA seal of approval:
Some people think that mouthwashes are too abrasive and thus avoid them altogether. We think this is a mistake, as an antiseptic mouthwash can reach places brushing and flossing can’t, while also providing your mouth with that clean, fresh feeling.
If you think mouthwashes are too abrasive, try diluting it with water to make using it daily more manageable!
3 Take a Hard Look at Your Diet
Your diet can have a significant impact on the health of your teeth and gums, as you’re probably well aware. That being said, most of us have a sweet tooth, and just love eating those sugary foods (and drinking sugary beverages) that really aren’t very good for our teeth!
While eating a protein-rich diet with plenty of chicken, fish, fruits, and vegetables is ideal (and you should be doing that for your overall health and wellness), you probably don’t want to cut all sugar out of your diet.
Our advice is to limit the amount of coffee or dark colas you consume (the dark color can stain your teeth over time, and they can contain too much sugar), and also limit your intake of candy and other processed foods that are a little heavy on the sugar.
Your gums and teeth will thank you, and so will your waistline.
4 Stop Smoking or Using Tobacco Products
We know that smoking is a truly addicting habit. You’ve likely tried to quit before, but struggled because nicotine is such a powerful, habit-forming substance. The same can be said for using any form of smokeless tobacco as well.
That being said, 90% of people with oral cancer use some form of tobacco, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. In addition, your risk of developing oral cancer is correlating with how long you’ve used smoked or used tobacco, and how frequently (to get more details, click the link below):
While we know that quitting this habit will be extremely difficult for you, it will also be one of the most rewarding that you will ever do in your entire life, and your gums and teeth will thank you (not to mention the fact that you are significantly reducing your risk of developing oral cancer).
If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary in or around your mouth, you should schedule an oral cancer screening with your dentist immediately. If you’re in or around Alpharetta, we offer this service to our new and existing patients.
5 See a Dentist Every Six Months
Visiting the dentist every six months for an oral exam and cleaning is important to your overall health. We’ve mentioned earlier how important keeping an eye on your oral health is (detecting oral cancer early, catching gum disease early before it progresses to periodontal disease, etc.), and by having a dental appointment every six months you can rest easy knowing that you are keeping these things in check.
In addition, there aren’t many things that feel better than knowing your mouth is fresh and incredibly clean after a dental appointment!
Have you noticed any problems with your teeth and gums lately?
At our Alpharetta dental practice, Dr. Silverman and the rest of our team are in the business of keeping our patients healthy and happy. Whether you’re a current patient and it’s time to schedule your next appointment, or you’re looking for a new dentist (and perhaps haven’t been to the dentist in a few years…don’t worry, we don’t judge), now is the time to schedule your appointment with Advanced Cosmetic & Family Dentistry.
Give us a call today! We look forward to meeting you!