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Keep Your Gums and Teeth Healthy

Brushing and flossing your teeth isn't hard to do. And doing both properly can help prevent gum disease and tooth loss.

Gum disease is caused by bacteria found in plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth and is mostly comprised of bacteria, mucus, food, and other particles. When plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar, which gives a home to bacteria, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Bacteria in plaque and tartar cause inflammation of the gums, which is known as gingivitis. Tartar can only be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist.

Gum disease has 3 stages:

Gingivitis.
This early stage is characterized by red, swollen, tender gums that bleed easily. If caught early, the condition can often be reversed on its own with proper brushing and flossing.

Mild to moderate periodontitis.
The next stage is characterized by increased inflammation and bleeding around the tooth. It happens when bacterial poisons in plaque and your own body's defenses start to break down the gum attachment to the tooth. This causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets of infected material. Early loss of bone around the teeth may be evident. Treatment at this stage is critical to prevent further loss of bone and loosening of teeth.  

Advanced periodontitis.
This is characterized by further deepening of gum pockets and heavy destruction of bone that holds teeth in place. At this stage, teeth may become so loose that they need to be removed if periodontal treatment doesn't restore bone support.

How Can I Prevent Gum Recession?

The best way to prevent gum recession is to take good care of your mouth. Brush and floss your teeth every day and see your dentist or periodontist at least twice a year, or as recommended. If you have gum recession, your dentist may want to see you more often. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and ask your dentist to show you the proper way to brush your teeth. If a misaligned bite or teeth grinding is the cause of gum recession, talk to your dentist about how to correct the problem. Other ways to prevent gum recession include:

    Quit smoking if you smoke.
    Eat a well balanced and healthy diet.
    Monitor changes that may occur in your mouth.

By taking good care of your teeth, you can have a healthy smile forever.