8 proven tips for avoiding gum disease

Losing your teeth because you neglect them is bad enough, but gum disease suggests more than your mouth is at risk: they're signs heart disease and diabetes could be in your near future. Here are 8 tips for fending off gum disease.

8 proven tips for avoiding gum disease

Having teeth fall out because you don't brush or floss enough is bad enough, but gum disease is now known to affect more than just your mouth: heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are all linked to it. Why? Probably because of the low-level inflammation created as bacteria from your gums travel throughout your bloodstream. Here are 8 tips to achieve better gum health that could help reduce that risk.

1. Floss frequently

It takes less than a minute and the benefits take effect immediately. To make flossing easier:

  • Buy non-shredding monofilament floss. The only thing worse than food stuck between your teeth is floss stuck between them!
  • Keep floss everywhere: at your desk, in your purse, in the bathroom (of course).
  • Buy minty floss. The fresh taste in your mouth is a bonus.
  • Use a battery-operated flosser. A 10-week study found that these automated flossers got rid of considerably more plaque on molars, premolars and hard-to-reach back teeth than regular floss.
  • Ask for a demonstration. Although the process may seem obvious, there is a right and wrong way to floss. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for a demonstration.

2. Rinse daily with an antibacterial mouthwash

Try rinsing with a mouthwash containing antimicrobial chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride.

  • A study of 156 healthy volunteers found lower plaque levels on those who brushed and used either mouthwash vs. the others, i.e., those who brushed and flossed compared to those who only brushed.

3. Try a battery-operated toothbrush

After six months of brushing — but not flossing — with a battery-operated toothbrush, people who already had gum disease showed significantly less plaque in the morning and immediately after brushing than those using a regular toothbrush.

4. Put out the smokes

Not only is cigarette smoking a major risk factor for gum disease, but even exposure to second-hand smoke can increase your risk by up to 70 percent.

  • Smoking also contributes to bad breath and stains on the teeth.

5. Watch your blood sugar

If you have diabetes, your risk of gum disease is already higher than it is for someone who doesn't have diabetes. If your diabetes isn't well controlled, you're really in the danger zone.

  • Researchers find that people with poorly controlled diabetes have more inflammatory chemicals like cytokines in their gums, which contribute to the development of gum disease.

6. Get your vitamin C

When researchers evaluated the link between diet and gum disease in 12,400 adults, they found that those who didn't get the recommended daily amount of vitamin C (50 milligrams, or about the amount in one orange) were nearly 20 percent more likely to have gum disease than those who got more vitamin C.

  • Centuries ago, sailors at sea sucked on limes to prevent bleeding gums, a symptom of scurvy, and all citrus fruits and many brightly coloured vegetables, such as red peppers, are rich in vitamin C.

7. Grow a milk mustache

People who get less than 500 mg of calcium per day (one cup of milk has about 300 mg) are nearly twice as likely to have gum disease vs. those people who get at least three servings a day of calcium-rich foods.

  • A serving is 250 ml or one cup of milk or yogurt, six sardines, or five figs.
  • Calcium helps build density in the bone that supports the teeth, enabling it to better withstand the bacterial attack from plaque.

8. Don't overdo alcohol

Researchers have found a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol people drink and their risk of gum disease.

  • Ten drinks a week of alcohol increased the risk 10 percent; 20 drinks increased it by 20 percent; and so on.
  • Heavy drinking may influence gum disease by affecting the immune system's ability to fight infection, interfering with blood clotting and leading to vitamin and protein deficiencies that impair healing.

At the end of the day the lifestyle choices you make will not only be good for your dental health, but for your overall well-being, too.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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