It takes more than white teeth to create a beautiful smile. The shape and color of your gum tissues can have a huge impact on the appearance of your smile. Red, swollen gums are not only unattractive; they usually bring some bad breath with them. This blog describes the six most important things you can do to keep your gums healthy!
- Brushing . . . the Right Way
Many people brush the wrong way. Using an improper brushing technique leaves bad gingivitis-causing bacteria on the teeth. The two most common mistakes in brushing teeth that we see in our patients are: 1) Brushing too quickly, and 2) Missing the area where the teeth meet the gums.
The reason your dentist and dental hygienist tell you to brush your teeth for two minutes is because this is the amount of time it should take you to clean all of the exposed surfaces of the teeth with your toothbrush. Adequately brushing the cheek-side, tongue-side, and biting surfaces of all of your teeth simply cannot happen in a quick 20-second brush. Take the time to do it correctly.
Your brushing technique should use gentle, circular motions with the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle to the junction between the teeth and gums. If you are brushing in a fast, back-and-forth horizontal motion, you need to brush up on your technique (pun intended). Make sure you use a soft-bristled toothbrush. When you make your circular motions, you should feel the bristles gently touch the gum tissue at the edge of each tooth.
- Flossing Every Night
Flossing is the only way to remove plaque from the area between the teeth. Unfortunately, even the best toothbrush cannot reach into the place where two teeth meet. Flossing not only removes the gum-disease-causing bacteria; it also lowers your risk for cavities.
Again, technique is important. The floss must contact the side of each tooth to clean away plaque. Simply snapping it up and down in a vertical motion does not accomplish this. Search YouTube for “C-shaped flossing” for a video demonstration of the correct way to floss.
- Use a Whitening Mouthwash
Here’s a little insider tip for you: Whitening mouthwash does not actually whiten your teeth. Then why are we recommending it? Because one of the ingredients in whitening mouthwash reduces inflammation in the gums (gingivitis). Gingivitis causes red, puffy, tender gums that bleed easily. If you suffer from these symptoms, a whitening mouthwash can help.
It is important to note that this is not a cure for gingivitis. You will need to see your dentist about that (read on to tip #6).
- Avoid Food Injuries
We see injuries to the gum tissues all the time! The most common culprits are popcorn kernels (embedding in the gums), shards of tortilla chips (stabbing the gums), and pizza (burning the gums). We understand that these are food favorites, and we won’t tell you to stop eating them. However, we will tell you to be more careful. Slow down when you eat popcorn and tortilla chips, limiting yourself to one small piece at a time. Be patient and wait for the pizza to cool before taking your first bite.
Not only are these food injuries painful; they also cause many people to avoid cleaning the tender area, which leads to plaque buildup. Then you are on the road to gingivitis again. Slow down, and chew carefully!
- Take Your Vitamins
Did you know that certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies could put you at risk for gum disease? Vitamins C, D, and B12 are all important for gum health. Vitamin supplements can help. The very best tactic is to acquire your vitamins through a healthy diet!
Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can lead to multiple problems inside the mouth. If you are experiencing persistent gum disease in spite of great oral hygiene and consistent dental visits, you should see your medical doctor for bloodwork. Eating a healthy diet in order to support your immune system helps you keep your gums and your entire body as healthy as possible!
- See Your Dentist Regularly
In its initial stages, gum disease can cause some obvious signs. However, if left untreated, it progresses to chronic gum disease (called periodontal disease), which causes very few noticeable symptoms. We often call periodontal disease a “silent” disease because most people have no idea they have it.
For this reason, consistent dental visits are essential to ensuring gum health. Professional teeth cleanings remove any soft plaque or hard tartar buildup you miss with your tooth brushing and flossing. Don’t wait until you see a problem to see the dentist. Preventing dental problems is always less expensive and less extensive than trying to fix them after they occur.
More Questions about Healthy Gums?
Call Serene Smiles today to schedule a visit with our dentists and dental hygienists. We can answer any question you may have and give you specific recommendations for your particular needs.