We all know that if we want to avoid gum disease, we need a solid oral care regimen – brush twice a day, floss at night and use mouthwash. Right? Of course … this is, after all, the familiar refrain. So let’s step away from that simple 3-step plan for this month to share with you a few other things you might not have known when it comes to preventing gum disease.
Gingivitis and its advanced cousin, Periodontal disease, are silent offenders. Most often, you may not even know you should be concerned. After all, the serious problems take place beneath your gum line where you can’t see them. What’s worse is that a growing number of scientists believe that plaque and gum disease can also influence and exacerbate conditions like heart disease and stroke – certainly conditions we do not want to encourage by a lack of attention to good oral hygiene. So with no further ado, here are six easy things you can do to help protect your mouth from gum disease.
- Eat more Veggies! Everyone knows we need more vegetables in our diets. Our waistlines and our teeth love them for their water content as well as their vitamin and mineral profiles. There’s no doubt about it, veggies are good for you. Not a big fan? Incorporate them into soups, or in a great fruit smoothie … you won’t notice the difference, but your teeth and gums will.
- Use an anti-microbial mouthwash: The key here is using a mouthwash that is anti-microbial. Find one you’ll actually use every day, and use it once in the morning after brushing, and again after brushing before bed. Usually, the recommendation is to use one low in alcohol or without it altogether, as alcohol dries out your mouth and can contribute to tooth decay. More saliva = better oral health.
- Try a toothbrush that moves: Get adventurous and try out an electronic toothbrush that has the endorsement of the American Dental Association (ADA). They’re more effective than you’ll ever be at removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth by hand, and will protect your gums from aggressive brushing as well.
- Chew Gum! Keep that saliva flowing after a meal with sugar-free gum that contains Xylitol — a natural sweetener derived from plants. It doesn’t break down like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth. Both can help you avoid cavities. If you would like to avoid Aspartame in your Xylitol chewing gum, just do some searching online, or ask your dentist. Finding gum without Aspartame these days is very challenging, but they do exist.
- Get Braces! That’s right, getting braces can actually help protect you from gum disease. You see, crooked teeth are great enablers of tooth decay, which can lead to gum disease by allowing bacteria and plaque to colonize in the areas where your teeth are not aligned. Getting your teeth aligned eliminates these hideouts where your toothbrush cannot reach and straightens your smile at the same time.
- Quit Smoking! Okay, you know this one. But … it’s always worth mentioning. Smoking is always bad for your body, your gums, and your teeth.