Just over 47% of adults over the age of 29 have periodontal disease. The older you are, the more common it is. Among adults aged 65 or older, 70.1% have periodontal disease. Several risk factors can impact your risk. People who smoke or have diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease. It’s more common in men (56.4%) than women (38.4%).
You don’t want to lose the only set of teeth you have. Use Nashville dentist Dr. Jody Jones’ expert tips on tooth and gum disease to help prevent periodontal disease.
Brush a Minimum of Twice a Day
Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes. When you go to brush your teeth, time it for an hour after your meal or snack. If you brush right after eating, the acid from the food has softened your enamel. You’ll do more damage to the enamel than if you wait.
This may mean carrying a toothbrush with you to work or getting up earlier to leave more time. Do whatever it takes to make sure you’re brushing your teeth properly and at the right time.
Don’t Use a Hard Bristled Brush
When you’re brushing your teeth, you may think that a toothbrush with hard bristles is going to scrape off more plaque. Never use a hard bristled brush. Use one with soft bristles to avoid damaging your enamel.
If you use an electric toothbrush, which is helpful in brushing correctly, try to get one that contains a pressure sensor. If you’re brushing too hard, it will tell you and even stop working until you ease the pressure against your teeth.
Floss at Least Once a Day
Make sure you’re flossing daily. If possible, floss each time you brush. What you can do is invest in a water flosser and use that in the morning and then use regular floss at night.
A water flosser is best for getting rid of larger food particles and not as much of the filmy plaque forming on your teeth. Make sure you’re not relying solely on your water flosser. When you’re filling the water reservoir, add a splash of hydrogen peroxide or an antibacterial mouthwash to help kill germs around your gums and between your teeth.
Rinse With an Alcohol-Free Antibacterial, Enamel-Strengthening Mouthwash
After you’ve brushed and flossed your teeth, rinse with an antibacterial, enamel-boosting mouthwash. Make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol. There are plenty of options, and even some prescription mouthwashes, that can be helpful in strengthening tooth enamel. Ask your dentist for recommendations.
Don’t Whiten Your Teeth With a DIY Kit
You want to have your teeth whitened, so you purchase one of the DIY kits that are found in stores and online. This isn’t a good idea as some contain one-size-fits-all whitening trays that don’t necessarily fit your mouth correctly. This can lead to gum irritation and even infection if you’re not careful. If you have a crack or cavity, that can also cause irritation of your tooth pulp. Another issue arises if you have receding gums. If the hydrogen peroxide formula gets down to an exposed tooth root, it can cause inflammation.
Dental bleaching products can damage your enamel. People may be tempted to do the treatments every day or even multiple times per day to bleach their teeth faster. They don’t always read the warnings, either, that range from not using the product if you take certain medications or if you have or are in need of dental work.
A lot of people go the DIY route thinking they’ll save money. That’s not always true. It may take months of at-home whitening kits ($40 to $50 each) to achieve the same whitening you’d get after a professional whitening treatment in a dentist (average $600). You can spend just as much money purchasing multiple kits yourself over one visit to the dentist. If the DIY whitening kit also causes irritation or inflammation of your teeth or gums, you’ll spend even more on emergency dental care.
When you go to a dentist for a professional teeth whitening appointment, the dentist examines your teeth and gums first to make sure you’re a good candidate. You’re getting a prescription product that is matched specifically to your oral health. Prescription-strength whitening products and custom-fit trays are used to ensure there is not going to be any risk of irritation or inflammation during the whitening procedure.
Choose Healthier Snacks to Satisfy the Munchies
We all snack from time to time. There’s no shame in admitting you have the munchies and want to have something to eat between meals. It’s what you choose that can make a difference in tooth and gum health.
Skip starchy or sugary snacks. If you’re craving potato chips, snack on roasted almonds instead. If you’re after a sweet candy bar, have some apple slices or celery with natural (unsweetened) nut butter.
By avoiding sticky, starchy foods, it’s easier for the saliva to rinse away foods from your teeth and gums. Ideally, wash down your snack of choice with a glass of water. Sugary or acidic beverages are best in moderation and are not good for rinsing the mouth.
If you find yourself often craving a snack, you might find it helpful to chew gum in between meals. As long as it’s not against school or work policies, carry a pack of gum that contains xylitol. More than a dozen studies have found that regularly chewing xylitol gum does decrease more plaque than if you don’t chew gum or chew sorbitol gum.
Stop Smoking and Using Oral Tobacco Products
If you’re still smoking or using oral tobacco products, it’s time to stop. Not only does smoking increase your risk of lung disease, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions, but it also damages your teeth and gums.
Smokers and tobacco users are more likely to have dry mouth, which can contribute to gum disease. Tobacco use also increases the risk of oral cancer.
Go For at Least Two Cleanings and Exams a Year
Finally, make sure you see your dentist twice a year. If your dental insurance allows extra visits, take advantage of them. If you have a high risk or history of gum disease, your insurance coverage may allow up to four cleanings and exams each year.
If you have questions, don’t be embarrassed to ask them. You might think it’s a stupid question, but if it’s something you wonder about, take the time to ask. A dentist would be the first to say, “The only stupid question is the one not asked.”
Do you have questions about your teeth or the things you should be doing to take optimal care of them? Are you scared of the dentist? Don’t be ashamed. The dentists at Jody Jones DDS specialize in dental fear and phobia. He and his team are also happy to answer all of your questions, no matter how stupid you think they are.
Schedule a consultation with our office by phone or through our online contact form. If you’re not ready yet, we offer virtual consultations where you can get personalized recommendations on things that will improve your oral health or smile.