Tips for Preventing Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is one of the most important things you can do for your smile. Left untreated, gum disease can damage the tissue that holds your teeth in place and this can lead to lost teeth. Gum disease can also cause health problems.  

Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent gum disease before you lose teeth or develop a serious health issue.  

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is a bacterial infection. Bacteria, leftover food particles, and saliva combine to create plaque, a sticky coating that adheres to teeth and gums. Plaque is easy to remove at home with brushing and flossing. Left in place, though, the plaque will harden into tartar that only dental professionals can remove.

Your body’s immune system responds to the presence of dental plaque and tartar by causing inflammation of the gums. This inflammation can cause the gums to separate from the teeth to form pockets between the teeth and gums. Plaque, tartar, and the bacteria they contain can get inside these pockets and infect the tissues deep inside.

Gum disease is progressive, which means it can get worse without treatment. There are two main stages of gum disease. In its early stage, known as gingivitis, the infection and inflammation affect just the gum tissue. The later stage, known as periodontitis, involves inflammation that reaches the soft tissue and bone that holds your teeth in your jawbone.  

Dentist Provides Tips on How to Prevent Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease may be easier than you might realize. Here are just a few ways you can reduce your risk of developing gingivitis and periodontitis.  

Brush your teeth

Brushing after meals helps remove the disease-causing bacteria from the surface of your gums and in the spaces between your teeth.  


Daily flossing helps remove plaque and particles between teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach. Use the proper technique:

  • Curve the floss into a C-shape
  • Wrap the floss around one tooth
  • Slide the floss carefully beneath the gum line
  • Move the floss up and down carefully to remove plaque and debris; do not snap or pop the floss in and out between your teeth, as this may cut or further irritate your gums

Swish with mouthwash

Mouthwashes and rinses can remove any plaque or food particles remaining on your teeth after brushing and flossing.

Know your risk

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing gum disease. You can control some of these risk factors. Knowing your risk and addressing your changeable risk factors can help you prevent gum disease.  

Risk factors for gum disease include:

  • Age – more than 70% of people aged 65 and older have some form of gum disease
  • Smoking – this habit weakens the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight the gum infection
  • Diet
  • Genetics
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Stress
  • Certain medications

Know the signs and symptoms of gum disease

Knowing the signs and symptoms of gum disease – and inspecting your gums regularly – can help you catch gum disease early, before it can progress to the more serious form. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis and periodontitis include:  

  • Bleeding gums, especially when you brush or floss
  • Swollen gums
  • Bright red gums
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Mouth sores
  • Bad breath, also known as halitosis

Improve your diet

Some foods increase your risk of gum disease, while others reduce it. Making a few simple changes to your everyday diet can help you prevent gum disease.

Avoid sugary foods, as bacteria thrive on the sugar in the foods you eat. Stay away from acidic foods too, as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and carbonated drinks can irritate your gums to cause inflammation – spicy foods can also cause irritation and inflammation. Cut down on sticky or chewy foods, as they have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth.  

Food containing certain nutrients may benefit gum health. These nutrients include:

  • Vitamin C – citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens contain vitamin C, which may reduce gum inflammation
  • Vitamin B12 in animal products, such as milk, eggs, and meat, may prevent severe gum disease
  • Omega3 fatty acids, like that found in fatty fish, can help reduce inflammation in gums

See your periodontist

A periodontist is a dentist who has undergone special training to diagnose and treat gum disease.  

For more information on ways to prevent gum disease, consult with your periodontist at Liberty Family Dentistry. Our Bloomington, IN, dentist is always glad to help you avoid gum disease, and keep your smile bright and healthy for a lifetime.

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