How to Prevent Periodontal Disease
If you read our last article, then you know how easy it can be to develop periodontal disease when you aren’t staying on top of your oral hygiene. However, as you will see here, periodontal disease can be easily prevented in most situations.
Brushing & Flossing
Food particles and debris are often the beginning of the problem. With that in mind, the best measure that most people can take is simply to floss and brush their teeth. And flossing, in particular, is critical. Doing these two things will eliminate most plaque, preventing the development of periodontal disease in the process. You can also use an antimicrobial mouthwash to help keep periodontal disease under control.
It is recommended to brush your teeth two times per day with a fluoride toothpaste, gently rotating the brush along the gum lines. Flossing should be done at least once a day but can be done as much as after every meal as long as you are being gentle on your gums. If you choose to only floss once a day, we recommend the evening so that you can clear away any buildup from the day before you sleep.
The act of flossing has been debated in the past, but every dentist will tell you that it’s vital in reaching the spots that a toothbrush simply can’t. If the food debris in these cracks and crevices aren’t removed, they will aid in the development of harmful bacteria.
If you’re struggling to form a habit of brushing and flossing, we encourage you to think of them as a means to prevent serious dental issues down the road, instead of as chores. If you don’t floss at all, try to floss a few times per week, and build the daily habit from there.
Other Risk Factors
While brushing and flossing will prevent major issues in most situations, there are also a number of risk factors besides poor oral hygiene that can increase your chances of developing periodontal disease:
- Age (most Americans over age 65 have some degree of gum disease)
- Use of tobacco products (smokers have 4 times the risk of periodontal disease as non-smokers)
- Medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes (both Type I and Type II)
- Chronic dry mouth (saliva plays an important role in keeping oral bacteria in check)
- Bruxism, bite misalignment and poorly fitted dental restorations (these place additional stress on your teeth and can impact your gums as well)
- Hormonal changes (caused by pregnancy, menopause and certain oral contraceptives)
- A diet high in sugary foods that encourage bacterial growth
- Osteoporosis that contributes to porous jaw bone structure
- Wisdom teeth that are causing persistent gum inflammation
You can’t control all of these risk factors, but you can make dietary changes, stop smoking, have dental problems taken care of promptly, and address health issues such as diabetes that make periodontal disease worse.
The most important step you can take is visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and learning proper brushing and flossing techniques to use at home. These preventive steps greatly increase your chances of keeping your gums healthy and avoiding tooth loss.
Be sure to read our next blog post in this series, where we’ll talk about how periodontal disease can be treated.