As a mom, you’ve got a busy schedule. Between working, errands, social and family activities, and looking after your child’s (or children’s) needs, there’s no question that you’ve got a lot going on. With so much to juggle, it’s understandable if you forget a few things. But don’t let your oral care fall by the wayside! We’ve got gum disease prevention tips that can help.
What Causes Gum Disease?
In any mouth, you’ll find a lot of bacteria. Normally, this is fine, but too much of it stick to your teeth and build up to create tartar. If you don’t remove this tartar through regular brushing and flossing, it forms plaque, which can infect the gums — leading to gum disease.
The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Your gums may become inflamed and start to bleed, especially when you brush or floss. When left untreated, the disease progresses to periodontitis and, later, advanced periodontitis. It can eventually lead to gum recession and tooth loss. Gum disease has also been linked to chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease.
Gum Disease Prevention Tips
Preventing gum disease is easiest in the early stages. Here are a few things you can do to look after your dental health, no matter how busy your life gets.
Know the Signs
Learn to recognize the symptoms of gum disease:
- Persistent bad breath
- Tender, inflamed, or swollen gums
- Bleeding from the gums
- Loose teeth
- Pain or sensitivity while chewing
- Receding gums (your teeth may look longer)
Pay Attention Early
Even before you have children, it’s important to know which dental problems can occur during pregnancy. Due to hormonal changes, pregnant women have an increased risk of developing gingivitis. Gum disease has also been linked to premature birth and low birth weight, so it’s in your (and your child’s) best interests to look out early for symptoms.
Practice Good Dental Hygiene
It can be a pain, but flossing is vital to keeping your teeth free of tartar. It’s especially important to clean between the teeth and at the gum line, where bacteria accumulates the most. If you have difficulty with regular floss, a handheld flosser or Waterpik may be easier for you.
Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day. Use a fluoride toothpaste, and make sure you and your family are brushing for at least 2-3 minutes. Don’t forget to brush along your gum line and also brush your tongue, since it can trap bacteria.
Follow with an American Dental Association-approved mouthwash. Look for a mouthwash with antimicrobial properties to help reduce plaque, and with fluoride for added cavity protection.
Focus on Nutrition
Eating a healthful, well-balanced diet is not only good for your family’s general well-being, it’s also good for oral health. A nutritious diet that includes enough vitamin A and C will help maintain good dental health.
When you use artificial sweeteners or eat sugary, starchy foods, there’s an increase in plaque. Eat these in moderation! Drinking water also makes sure you’re producing enough saliva, which helps wash away food debris and plaque.
Get Regular Dental Care
Regular dental cleanings and checkups can further reduce the risk of gum disease. Try to set aside some time in your busy schedule for the whole family to visit at least twice a year. Professional attention from an experienced dentist also helps to ensure that any issues are caught and addressed in the earliest stages. Your dentist should be able to spot any trouble before they can cause more damage and require more extensive treatments.
No matter how hectic your schedule gets, we’ve got time to see you and your family. Learn more about gum disease and gum disease prevention tips from Dr. Mullins at My Family Dentistry. Make an appointment today!
(This post was originally published on 5/1/2015. It has since been updated.)