Try meditation, lose some weight, pick up a new sport, spend more time with family — these are all great new year's resolutions. If health and wellness are big priorities for you, we’d love to see you add gum health to your list.
Gum health may not be all that glamorous, but if you consider a world where you don’t have teeth to help you eat, talk, and smile, you might reconsider. This world is a reality for far too many people — 30% of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have no natural teeth left.
To stay on the positive side of this eye-opening statistic, the team here at Baton Rouge Perio, including Dr. Barry Biner, Dr. Jenny Herman, and Dr. Kenneth Markle, wants to provide you with a few gum health tips for the new year.
There are two primary drivers of tooth loss — tooth decay and periodontal disease. When it comes to the second — gum disease — the problem is widespread. About 46% of adults aged 30 and older in the United States have some degree of gum disease.
In basic terms, gum disease occurs when harmful bacteria eat away at these soft tissues. The bacteria are found in plaque buildup on your teeth and gums and, given the chance, they can make their way under your gums where they can really wreak havoc.
Once bacteria set up shop underneath your gums, they can not only destroy these soft tissues, but the hard and soft tissues that stabilize your teeth. With advanced gum disease, teeth become loose and fall out and the bacteria eat away at your jawbone.
Now that we’re reviewed the problem, let’s take a look at how to stop this bacterial spread.
To fight back against gum disease, we highly recommend the following periodontal maintenance practices to promote great gum health:
If you’ve become a little lax in your daily dental regimen, we urge you to become more vigilant. Your first line of defense against gum disease is to clear away bacteria-harboring plaque on a daily basis through:
Whatever tools you use — water jets, electric toothbrushes, flossing picks — just be sure to use them once in the morning and once before you go to bed.
As important as your daily dental regimen is, your twice-a-year professional cleanings are equally so. During these visits, we can get into places that your at-home tools can’t reach to clear out the plaque buildup. We also use this time to assess your gum health to stay on top of brewing periodontitis.
If you use tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco or cigarettes, your gums are in the direct line of fire of these unhealthy habits.
You might think you have a sweet tooth, but so do bacteria. If you allow sugars to linger in your mouth — you chew gum, suck on hard candies, or drink sugary sodas — you’re giving bacteria what they really want, and they will munch and multiply faster.
There are a couple of reasons why we want you to manage stress to encourage better gum health. First, constant stress can suppress your immune system, which means you can’t fight back against bacteria as well.
Second, you might stress eat when you’re anxious or strung out and this reactive eating often involves sugary foods that aren’t good for your teeth and gums.
As you can see, many of the items on our gum health list also check boxes in other areas of your health and wellness, allowing you to double down on your efforts.
If you have more questions about how to take care of your gums, contact our office in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to schedule a consultation.