Gum disease is one of the most common reasons why people need to see a dentist in San Marcos. Preventing this serious condition comes down to practicing the basics of dental self-care. These include regular brushing and flossing and eating a sensible diet.
The Three Stages of Gum Disease
Most cases of gum disease follow a threefold pattern, each phase more serious than the last. They are:
- Gingivitis. The gums are usually somewhat tender. They may bleed during brushing. At this stage, the condition can usually be reversed through a combination of self-care and a trip to the dentist.
- Periodontitis. By this stage, the disease has moved on to the fibers and bones above the gum line. The patient may notice pockets of swelling around the inflamed area. Professional care is crucial at this stage to prevent further damage to the patient’s health.
- Advanced periodontitis. The gums are extremely swollen and may leak blood or pus. Tooth loss is almost always inevitable by this stage unless aggressive intervention is taken to treat the problem. The patient may suffer from severe discomfort. Some form of irreversible damage is likely present.
As you can see, gum disease is nothing to ignore. Fortunately, there are steps you can take right now to minimize your risk of developing this condition.
A Three-Step Plan to Prevent Gum Disease
Preventing gum disease comes down to three key habits:
- Brushing and flossing. Brushing after every meal is ideal; at least twice a day is the absolute minimum. Taking time to brush thoroughly is critical. Remember the 2 x 2: you should brush for at least two minutes at a time and do so at least two times per day. Clean every surface of the tooth, including front, back, and chewing surfaces. It’s also important to floss at least once per day.
- Eat a sensible diet. This includes limiting your consumption of sugars and simple starches, as these foods can promote the spread of decay-causing bacteria throughout your mouth. But just as important is eating plenty of the right kinds of foods. These include lean meats and reduced fat cheeses, raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy whole grains.
- See your dentist every six months for an oral exam and cleaning. Even the most diligent brushing and flossing cannot remove all the plaque on your teeth. Obtaining satisfactory results requires professional care. Seeing the dentist every six months allows your dentist to spot oral health problems while they’re in their earliest stages.
Other Tips for Preventing Gum Disease
Here are some added steps you can take to help keep gum disease at bay:
- Drink plenty of water. Water enables your body to produce saliva, a fluid with powerful anti-germ properties. It also helps keep you hydrated, which is important for overall health.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Not all of us can brush after our midday meal. But most of us can chew on a stick of sugar-free gum throughout our workday. This helps to clean the teeth in between brushings.
- Exercise. Staying physically active is one of the best things you can do for your body, including your teeth and gums. A fit, healthy body is better able to fight off cavity-causing infections.
Following the tips in this post will help you to stay free of gum disease for the rest of your life. That’s a sure way to lay a strong foundation for a happy new year and beyond.
About the Author
Dr. J Robert Donnelly is a former Marine, a longtime dentist, and a graduate of the dental program at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. You can reach his office online or by calling (512) 396-5225.