Periodontal Health – Preventing Gum Infections
Periodontal health can be affected by many things. Gum infections are the result of bacteria building up in the mouth, on the teeth, around the gums. They begin as gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, and can progress to periodontitis if left untreated. There are several paths to deteriorating periodontal health, which may be out of an individual’s control. These include hormonal changes such as pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, or serious illness. Proper hygiene is the most effective preventative measure people can take responsibility for themselves.
Proper oral hygiene practices
Good gum care means implementing a consistent daily hygiene routine of brushing, flossing and rinsing. Brushing for two minutes with an electric toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, or as your dentist instructs, is the ideal start towards periodontal health. Flossing, either with strings of floss or floss picks, is the best way to clean between teeth where the gums are particularly vulnerable. The use of an anti-bacterial mouth wash is the third tool in a daily arsenal which will fight against potential gum infections. Products which incorporate zinc and/or folic acid can have added benefits which prevent gum infection and tooth loss. Along with proper daily care, regular visits to a dentist are essential to preventing gum disease.
Not only do dentists provide a deep clean during regular appointments, which should be scheduled every six months, but they are also able to detect early warning signs of gum infection. If signs, like significant plaque build-up appear, dentists might encourage more than two visits per year. In the case a plaque and tartar (the indicators of declining periodontal health) are discovered beneath the gum line, there are both non-surgical and surgical options to prevent the further spreading of the disease and hopefully to avoid tooth loss.
The non-surgical option is known as scaling and planing. During this procedure, the patient is anesthetized, plaque and tartar are scraped out from beneath the gum line, and teeth are smoothed out to encourage proper gum reattachment. There are several surgical options to prevent the spread of infection when the gum tissue is too unhealthy for these other methods to be effective.
Other preventative measures
Reduce tobacco use
Ideas for preventing periodontitis outside of proper dental hygiene revolve around what is put into one’s mouth and stress management. Smoking is a massive risk factor for gum disease. Diet plays multiple roles in preventing or causing gum disease. Late onset (type two) diabetes and high blood pressure are both conditions which are linked to gum infections.
Establish a healthy diet
These two conditions are largely dependent on diet. Low levels of vitamin C are linked to gum infections as well. Therefore, the consumption of citrus and vegetables which contain this vitamin is smart to consider when looking to stave off gum disease. Finally, since these infections are inflammatory, eating foods high in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory properties, along with managing stress — known to increase inflammation, will aid in preventing infections.
Proper dental hygiene, regular visits to the dentist and the monitoring of consumption are the main avenues at one’s disposal in the prevention of gum infection.
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