Brush and floss twice a day and visit your dentist every six months. This is advice that you have probably heard as far back as you can remember. Considering that 90% of adults suffer from gum disease at some point in their lifetime, it's advice you probably should pay attention to. For this reason, it is obvious that proper dental hygiene is an important part of maintaining good dental health. Since gum disease does not discriminate by age, teaching your children proper dental hygiene will help set them up for a brighter dental health future.
The leading cause of gum disease is plaque. Plaque is a film that builds up along the gum line and traps food and germs. Once settled in the germs attack the gums themselves, causing soreness and bleeding. If the plaque is left on the gum line for too long, a harder more substantial film called tartar will form under the gum line. The key to controlling plaque and tartar build up is a daily dental hygiene program that includes brushing and flossing. To reinforce your daily dental program, visit your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings.
There are two stages of gum disease. The first is gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque has built up enough to cause tenderness and bleeding when brushing and flossing your teeth. To prevent gingivitis, follow a good dental hygiene program as suggested above.
The second and much more serious stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis has been left untreated and has progressed to this next level. This will not only cause sore swollen gums, it will cause your gums to pull away from the teeth creating pockets that collect food particles and may become infected. If left untreated, your teeth will begin to loosen, resulting in tooth loss. The key to preventing gum disease is following a daily home dental hygiene program and regular visits with your dentist. If you suspect you have gum disease, see your dentist immediately. If left untreated, it will only get worse.
Since proper dental hygiene is the key to preventing gum disease, let's review the tools and proper procedures to accomplish this. First and foremost, brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Since a toothbrush can only clean one tooth at a time, spend at least three minutes brushing your teeth each time. Using a soft-bristle toothbrush, angle the brush along the gum line where your teeth and gums meet. Use a back and forth brushing motion on the outside and inside of all your teeth, paying particular attention to reach all the back teeth and chewing surfaces. Remember to brush the entire gum area as well as the surface of the tongue. Doing so will help to alleviate germ buildup and bad breath. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. For added protection against germs, run your toothbrush through the dishwasher regularly.
The next step to maintaining proper dental hygiene is flossing. Flossing will help enhance your brushing by removing food and plaque from between teeth and along the gum line where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing should be done once a day. To floss properly, begin with a strand about eighteen inches long. Wrap the ends of the floss around the middle finger of each hand until there is about one inch of floss between each hand. Gently maneuver the floss in between your teeth using a sawing motion until you reach the gum line. When you've reached the gum line, use the floss to scrape the side of each tooth in an up-and-down motion. As the floss becomes worn, use a new section of the floss that is already wrapped around your fingers. Repeat this process until the gums around each tooth have been cleaned. Follow up your home dental care with regular trips to the dentist office for a professional cleaning.
Although good dental hygiene can help prevent many dental diseases it may not be enough if you suffer from diabetes. Gum disease is the most common oral disease that affects people with diabetes. Unfortunately, it is not the only one. Diabetes also makes you more susceptible to oral infections. Oral infections are caused by a group of germs that have settled in a specific area of the mouth. The symptoms of an oral infection can be quite painful, making it pretty obvious that something is wrong. If you are suffering from swollen gums and pus pockets that are red or white in color around a certain tooth or have constant pain in and around the mouth area, even spreading to the sinus area, chances are you are suffering from an oral infection and need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Another type of infection that diabetics are prone to is thrush. This is a fungal infection that can be caused by high blood sugar and repeated antibiotic use. Thrush presents itself as white (or less often, red) patches found in the mouth that can lead to painful ulcers. Again, good dental hygiene will help to lessen the likelihood of getting thrush. If you suspect that you have thrush, see your dentist immediately.
Dry mouth is also a problem for diabetes sufferers. Some medications or high blood sugar can cause dry mouth, which can then lead to cavities. Since the mouth produces less saliva to wash out the germs and acids in your mouth, proper dental hygiene becomes more important for controlling germ buildup. Chewing sugar-free gum and drinking more fluids may help to alleviate the symptoms. If it persists, see your dentist for guidance.
As you now know, the dental hygiene advice you have been hearing for years actually makes a great deal of sense. Following a daily home dental care program and regular dental check-ups are critical for maintaining lifelong dental health and a beautiful smile.
See also: Tooth Whitener.