When it comes to preventing serious gum recession, diligent oral hygiene is critical. Ironically, many people overlook their gums and instead focus only on a bright white smile. But you can’t have a bright smile without healthy gums.
In fact, gum recession and related disease can result in tooth loss altogether, and a host of additional serious issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Following a responsible oral health routine—from proper brushing and flossing to regular dental checkups—goes a long way in preventing and even reversing gum recession.
Here are 5 proven oral care steps to minimize gum recession and maintain excellent overall health from head to toe.
Proper brushing with the right toothpaste
There is a right way to brush your teeth and doing so is key to having a healthy mouth and gums. Experts at the American Dental Association recommend following these brushing guidelines:
- Brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles begin to fray
- Brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Move the toothbrush in short, circular strokes
- Press gently on your teeth
- Clean the insides of your front teeth by turning the brush vertically and making several short strokes along each tooth
The toothpaste aisle in your favorite store is loaded with a huge selection of toothpaste brands, including whitening paste and those containing baking soda. When selecting a brand and type, be sure it contains fluoride and displays the ADA seal of approval on the packaging.
Floss daily and rinse with care
Many people neglect daily flossing but this is a very important component of thorough oral care. Flossing removes food and plaque from between your teeth and gums, which if left unchecked leads to tartar, the buildup of hard layers of bacteria that can only be removed by a dentist.
Many people rinse their mouth out after brushing their teeth but doing so can wash away the fluoride in the toothpaste. On the other hand, rinsing your mouth out after eating provides the benefit of rinsing away bacteria that causes plaque and tartar. Remember that oral hygiene practices should complement the effectiveness of fluoride products, not hinder them.
Use mouthwash every day
According to the ADA, there are two types of mouthwash available over the counter: therapeutic and cosmetic. A therapeutic mouthwash helps prevent gum recession and disease, reduces the rate of tartar buildup, reduces the amount of plaque on your teeth, and removes food particles trapped between teeth and elsewhere in the mouth.
While mouthwash is very effective, do not use it as a replacement for brushing and flossing. When choosing a brand, look for the ADA seal indicating the manufacturer has demonstrated enough evidence to support the product’s safety and effectiveness. Keep in mind that children under the age of 6 years should not use mouthwash at all.
Get regular dental checkups
It might seem obvious, but regular dental checkups are extremely important. These checkups typically include a professional cleaning of the mouth, which is the only way to remove tartar from the teeth. Professional cleaning also helps eliminate plaque missed when brushing.
During regular visits, a dentist can also help identify potential early signs of gum disease and gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. Early detection is the best medicine in preventing more severe problems from occurring.
Stop smoking and maintain a healthy diet
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking weakens the immune system and makes a person highly susceptible to gum disease. The best advice? Stop smoking, and certainly don’t start the habit. Using other tobacco products can also increase a person’s risk of gum disease.
Diet also plays a big role. In fact, what you eat can directly affect the health of your teeth and gums. Some foods to consider incorporating into your diet include:
- High-fiber fruits and vegetables
- Black and green teas, which help reduce bacteria
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt to help increase saliva production
- Foods with lots of fluoride, including water, poultry and seafood products
- Chewing sugar-free gum also helps increase saliva production
Always remember to avoid carbonated soft drinks with phosphoric and citric acids as well as sugar, excessive alcohol, sticky candy, and starchy foods.