It’s a scary thought, but doctors estimate that there are several hundred kinds of bacterial that consider a person’s mouth their home. They camp out on your teeth, on and under the tongue, and along (and inside) the gums. As the years go by, the constant bacterial onslaught can cause the gums to swell, redden, and bleed. Doctors call this condition gingivitis, better known as gum disease.
Gingivitis isn’t particularly serious in the early stages. If you don’t stop it right away, it can lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis, which can actually weaken the teeth, making them more likely to loosen.
The one good thing about gingivitis is that it’s very easy to reverse. Flossing and brushing your teeth every day will remove build-ups of plaque, a thin, bacteria laden film that covers the teeth and may lead to gum disease. To save your smile and keep your teeth looking bright, here’s what dentists advise.
Give your teeth a good brushing. It was good advice when you heard it from your parents, and it’s still the best way to prevent gum disease. If you brush your teeth and gums every day you will remove plaque and bacteria before they have a chance to cause gingivitis. Don’t try to finish the whole job in ten seconds. For brushing to be effective you have to hit every tooth, from the front as well as the back. While you’re at it, take a few seconds to brush along the gum line. By taking your time – dentists advise brushing for two or three minutes – you’ll virtually eliminate the plaque that can cause problems later on.
Don’t forget the tongue . If you don’t brush it every day, your tongue can provide safe haven for millions of infection- causing bacteria. You don’t have a spend a lot of time on it. Just giving your tongue a quick brushing will remove bacteria as well as food particles.
Put the floss to work . It’s not the most exciting activity, but flossing your teeth will remove plaque and bacteria buildups between your teeth where a brush can’t reach, and it well strengthen your gums. It doesn’t really matter what kind of floss you use – mint-flavored, flat or think they all work about the same. Use the kind that feels most comfortable to you, and use it every day.
Use a pick . If you’re not able to floss every day, dentists recommend using those flat, wooden toothpicks you can buy at pharmacies. The picks are designed to fit between your teeth and along the gum line. They will remove plaque and bacteria that your brush leaves behind.
Add a little force . A high tech version of the toothpick is the Water-Pic. This little gadget fires a jet of water between your teeth and into the gum line, floating away particles that brushing doesn’t get. You can buy Water Pics at pharmacies and many department stores.
Turn on the power . Studies have shown that an electric toothbrush can remove more plaque than brushing manually does. Ask you dentist what brand and style will work best for you.
Brush after eating sticky, foods . Sugar isn’t the best thing for your teeth, but it isn’t the demon dentists once thought it was. A more serious threat for your teeth are sticky treats. Chocolate are caramel stick to the surfaces of the teeth, making it easy for bacteria to stick around. You don’t have to give up your favorite snacks. Just be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly after eating them.
Get some help from vitaminC. Research has shown that getting plenty of vitamin C in your diet as well as taking supplements can help bleeding gums heal more quickly. You can get plenty of this healthful nutrients by enjoying citrus fruit (or drinking orange juice) and green, leafy vegetables. If you’re not getting enough vitamin C in your diet, you may want to take 500-milligram supplement once a day, dentists say.
See red . Not sure if you’re taking good care of your teeth? You may want to ask your dentist for those tiny tablets that will stain accumulations of plaque with red dye. They’re a great way to see how effective your brushing really is.
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