From preventing cardiovascular disease and diabetes to overall tooth health, having healthy gums is one of the most important things you can do for your health as a whole. It’s easy to think that the path to healthier gums is as simple as flossing, and of course, this daily habit plays a huge role in gum health. But there are many other factors that ensure you’re taking the best measures possible.
I think you’ll find these tips for healthier gums are not only easy to do, but also provide the consistent results you want for positive wellness.
An Alexandria, Virginia, Periodontist’s Tips for Healthier Gums
Taking good care of your gums provides numerous benefits including, but not limited to:
- Proper support for teeth
- Prevention of gum disease, tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss
- Fresh breath
- Improved oral health
- Reduced risk of health diseases related to gum inflammation and disease
Most of the tips below only take a few minutes daily, while others might require more of a shift of lifestyle habits—but your health is worth it.
Floss daily and correctly
There’s a reason dentists bring up flossing time and again. It’s one of the most vital ways to address gum health. Dentists recommend flossing daily, and more specifically, before going to bed. This is the best chance to get all the plaque buildup that has happened throughout the day. Here’s how to do it:
- Use a long piece of floss you can easily wrap your fingers around with plenty of space in between.
- Slip it between your teeth, and curve it around each tooth in the shape of a C.
- Polish with a gentle up-and-down motion.
Sometimes there can be barriers that deter people from flossing daily, but this shouldn’t be the case. If you have braces, a permanent retainer, or something else that makes flossing difficult, you can find floss that has a hardened end to get through easier. As one example, dentists often have loops that can pull regular floss through to make flossing easier.
Additionally, it’s totally normal for your gums to bleed a little. If the bleeding persists after several days of consistent flossing, this might be a sign of a bigger issue, like periodontitis, but usually, this is part of the transition to getting your gums to a healthier state.
Brush (but don’t scrub) your teeth
Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice daily, for two minutes each time. While this might seem like it goes without saying, it doesn’t. In fact, the ADA has reported that many Americans often go two or more days without brushing their teeth, especially young adults.
All this talk of gum disease can make us feel the need to neurotically scrub our teeth with a toothbrush in an attempt to get rid of plaque buildup, but this can actually make matters worse. If gums feel like they’re being attacked, they can retreat and start to recede, which makes them more susceptible to gum disease. Brushing gently, with light pressure applied, in circular motions.
Drink water after every meal
This is a really good practice for health in general. By drinking water, you’re actively washing away some of the food buildup that takes place when you’ve consumed that amazing seven-layer lasagna or that summer-sweet corn on the cob. Particularly if you’ve eaten something sweet, it’s a great idea to drink some water right after, as sugar can contribute to some of the worst forms of plaque buildup. Many dentists also recommend swishing around water in your mouth to do the best possible job.
Ideally, you would brush your teeth after each meal or use a mouthwash that contains fluoride, but we don’t always have the time or the means to do this. Water is definitely an alternative that can help maintain healthy gums after you eat.
In addition to drinking water after you eat, stick to water after you exercise as well. Sometimes after an especially intense workout, the idea of a sports drink sounds way better than plain old water. However, in an attempt to quench your thirst, many sports drinks are high in sugar, which wreaks havoc on your mouth. Water is the best way to stay hydrated.
Build a routine
One of the reasons people don’t floss regularly is because of time. Flossing definitely adds a few minutes to your daily routine, which doesn’t seem like a lot. But when it boils down to jumping into bed at the end of a long day or taking the time to clean your gums, that bed sounds exceptionally more enjoyable.
Build flossing and dental health into your daily schedule so that it’s not something you dread, but rather, something you accept. Establish a time that you’re going to be getting ready for bed every night, and plan it for when you’re not going to be so exhausted that you rush or skip the flossing altogether. If you want to be in bed by 10 p.m., for example, start your bedtime routine at 9:30—and stick to it.
Maintain a healthy diet
We pretty much all know that eating excessive amounts of sugar every day isn’t good. But there are more reasons why having the right diet is important, especially for your gums. As an article from Harvard Medical School states, “A diet rich in vegetables and vegetable oils, fruits, legumes, nuts, and fatty fish not only provides all the essential nutrients, but it helps suppress inflammation.” By eating foods that diminish the risk of inflammation, you’re actively controlling the foundation of gum disease, which can lead to other chronic health conditions.
One of the many negative side effects of smoking is periodontitis, a serious gum disease. Smoking makes a person up to six times more likely to develop periodontitis than someone who doesn’t smoke.
Schedule Regular Dental Appointments for the Best Care
It can be difficult to stay on top of scheduling dental appointments, especially if you strongly dislike (or even fear) going to the dentist. However, your dental appointments will end up likely being more frequent and intense if you put off regular check-ups.
Make an appointment for a dental cleaning twice a year, six months apart, for the best chance at preventative dental care. Our team listens to your concerns, strives to make you comfortable, and provides a standard of care you’ll appreciate.