Gums have an important role to play in your mouth. They surround and cushion your teeth and help support them in biting and chewing.
How to keep my gums healthy?
Gum disease is caused by bacteria found in plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth. It is mostly made up of bacteria, mucus, food, and other particles. When plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar, which gives a home to bacteria. Bacteria in plaque and tartar cause inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis. Tartar can only be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist.
The following factors put a person at more risk for developing gum disease:
– Smoking or using chewing tobacco
– Hormonal changes in girls and women
– Certain medicines
Good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing at least twice every day can help prevent gum infections, cavities, and tooth loss. Having your teeth cleaned and checked by a dentist or dental hygienist at least once a year also is important. No matter how well you brush, tartar and plaque can still build up and cause gum problems.
To brush correctly:
– Brush in the morning and before going to sleep and use a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste that contains fluoride, use an electric toothbrush if you can.
– Place your toothbrush at a 45° angle against your gums, move the brush gently, using short strokes. Don’t scrub.
– Replace your toothbrush when it’s worn or frayed about every 3 or 4 months, experts say. You should also get a new toothbrush after you have had a cold, strep throat, or similar illness.
– Don’t cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed container. This can encourage the growth of microorganisms.
Flossing removes plaque and food particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach under the gum line and between your teeth.
To receive maximum benefits from flossing, use the following proper technique:
- Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
- Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth
- Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
- Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
- To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth.