Make daily changes to prevent periodontitis.

Healthy gums are one of the foundations of maintaining a healthy mouth. They help support your teeth and act as a seal against bacteria, protecting the roots and supporting structures of your teeth from decay. If your gums aren’t healthy, that seal can break, allowing bacteria to gather beneath your gum line and threatening the health of your teeth and body. In fact, severe gum disease, called periodontitis, is the leading cause of tooth loss in America. Taking great care of your gums increases the likelihood that your teeth will last you your lifetime.

Unfortunately, however, risk factors like age increase your chances of experiencing gum disease, so paying attention to your gum health and taking care of it proactively is vital, no matter how young or old you are. Here are 5 ways you can prevent periodontitis at any age.

1. Brush your teeth twice a day.

You likely know that one of the main keys to maintaining your oral health is brushing your teeth at least twice a day. You can get the most out of brushing your teeth by making sure you’re following your dentists’ recommendations about how to brush them properly. Use gentle motions to move the toothbrush back and forth over your teeth in short strokes at a 45-degree angle, and make sure to brush the inner, outer, and chewing surfaces of your teeth. When you brush the inner surfaces of your teeth, tilt the brush vertically and use up-and-down strokes.

You should brush your teeth for two minutes each time using a soft-bristled toothbrush, which needs to be replaced every three or four months to prevent it from getting too worn to do its job well. Following these recommendations will help you clean plaque and bacteria from your teeth thoroughly, helping to prevent cavities and periodontitis.

2. Floss every day.

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that sit at the gum line and attack your gums, so it’s vital to make sure you remove plaque from along your gum line. Unfortunately, the bristles of your toothbrush simply can’t reach all of the nooks and crannies between your teeth, so flossing is the best way to prevent periodontitis. When you floss, you should wrap an approximately 18-inch strand of floss around your middle fingers and hold it between your thumbs and forefingers. Then, slide the floss between your teeth with gentle back-and-forth motions, following the curved shape of your teeth. Don’t jerk the floss between your teeth roughly, as this can irritate your gums, and make sure to floss behind your last molars as well.

When you’re busy and on the move, you may feel like you don’t have the time to spare, but the benefits to your oral health make flossing well worth it. Try getting travel flossers to use on the go; they can help ensure you always have the ability to floss quickly and easily, even if you’re running short on time at home. If you haven’t been flossing regularly, your gums may bleed a little at first, but this should stop after a week or two. If the bleeding is severe or doesn’t stop after you’ve been sticking to the routine for about two weeks, it could be a sign that you have gum disease. You should call your dentist to schedule an appointment right away.

3. Incorporate mouthwash into your daily oral hygiene routine.

Mouthwash is another part of a great oral hygiene routine that’s often overlooked. Not all mouthwash is designed to actively improve your oral health, so you’ll want to choose your mouthwash carefully. The right type of mouthwash, however, can make a difference in your oral health because it reaches and cleans areas that your toothbrush can’t. If you’re struggling with gum disease, you can choose a mouthwash specifically designed to help prevent it. You should always follow the directions on the bottle to determine how many times a day you should use it and how much of it you should use. In general, you should swish mouthwash around your mouth for 30 seconds to a minute, then spit it out into the sink.

4. Schedule regular dental checkups.

Visiting your dentist for a regular checkup is vital for your oral health. It helps prevent oral health issues like tooth decay and gum disease from occurring by giving your dentist the chance to clean plaque and hardened tartar from your teeth. It also allows your dentist to examine the health of your teeth and gums regularly, ensuring that any issues that do pop up can be caught early. This is especially important for gum disease because many of its symptoms are mild enough that you may not even notice them. It tends to be completely painless until it’s severe, but it can do permanent damage to your teeth and gums if it goes untreated for too long. Making sure your dentist is able to catch these issues early saves you from needing extensive treatments in the future.

5. Drink water and eat crunchy fruits and vegetables.

Your diet has just as big of an impact on your oral health as it does on your overall health. Water lacks the sugar, acidity, and tooth-staining color that many drinks like tea, coffee, and soda contain. While drinking a sugary beverage throughout the day provides a constant source of food for the bacteria in your mouth, water flushes food debris from your mouth and helps return its pH to its normal level. By doing this, it actively helps prevent cavities, so it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water between meals.

Similarly, sugary or carbohydrate-rich snacks are particularly harmful to your teeth. They provide fuel for the bacteria in your mouth and tend to stick to your teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, or carrots don’t have as much sugar in them, and they also remove plaque from your teeth by rubbing against them as you chew. Even just switching out your daily snack with crunchy fruits or vegetables can make a difference in your oral and overall health.

Talk with your dentist about how you can prevent periodontitis.

Periodontitis can cause lasting damage to your teeth and gums, so it’s important to take steps to prevent it whenever you can. Most of these steps involve making small, daily changes to your habits. Put together, these changes can transform your oral health and help your teeth last your entire lifetime. If you’re concerned about periodontitis or the health of your teeth in general, schedule an appointment so we can help you stay on track for oral health.