Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is a silent epidemic in the American health system; nearly half of all U.S. adults suffer from gum disease, and roughly 9% of those cases are considered “severe.” How to prevent gum disease seems simple enough – brush and floss regularly, see your dentists every few months, etc. – however, comprehensive protection against this health crisis goes far beyond conventional wisdom.
Dr. Dental’s dentists, oral hygienists, and other professionals have helped our patients with mild, moderate and severe cases of gum disease. From our perspective, the best course of action is to avoid periodontal disease and gum decay in the first place. We recently reached out to dentists across the country for their advice on preventing gum disease. Here are some of the best responses we received.
According to American Board of Periodontology Diplomate Dr. Richard Nejat DDS, dental floss is essential. “Some individuals will find that their teeth are tightly grouped together, so I always recommend using waxed floss,” said Dr. Nejat. “You should wrap the floss around each side of the tooth to form a “C” shape and while moving the floss in an up and down motion.” Other worthwhile preventative methods include brushing teeth at least twice per day, preferably with an electronic toothbrush. But regardless of a patient’s course of action, they should see a dentist or periodontist (gum specialist) as soon as possible. “Gum disease does not only affect your gums, but also your heart,” said Dr. Nejat.
Dr. Corneliu Sima of The Forsyth Institute stressed the importance of oral hygiene, and highlighted the link between diabetes and gum disease. “Our research at the Forsyth Institute has found a strong connection between diabetes and susceptibility for gum disease, and that, for diabetic patients, controlling your blood glucose levels with medication and lifestyle changes including diet and exercising can significantly reduce the likelihood contracting periodontitis or gingivitis,” said Dr. Sima.
From Oral Fitness Expert Dr. Gary Glassman’s perspective, preventing gum disease requires improved lifestyle habits, a commitment to regular care and good old-fashioned due diligence. “Watch what you eat,” said Dr. Glassman. “A diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals is important to keep the gum tissue healthy so it can support your teeth and fight disease. Avoid sugary snacks because the bacteria that causes gum disease thrives on sugar.” Other helpful hints include black and green tea consumption, scraping the tongue, and eating plenty of veggies.
Many oral healthcare professionals mentioned the importance of a Waterpik, including Dr. Edward Alvarez. “That old school Waterpik that grandma had on the pink bathroom countertop does work wonders,” said Dr. Alvarez. “It is a little tank of water with a hose attached to it. The hose has a little nozzle that allows you to go around and in between each tooth. The water at high pressure will blast out food particles and other debris, plaque, and bacteria from between the teeth and under the gum line. You can put Listerine, or other medicaments in the tank, not just water. The use of a Waterpik is what works best for my patients in improving their gum health.”
Could gum disease prevention be all in the wrist? Dr. Eugene Gamble, a London-trained gum specialist, and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, seems to think so. His theory is that tooth brushing technique goes a long way toward preventing periodontal disease. “We all know that you are advised to brush your teeth twice daily. However, many people do this incorrectly as they brush only the biting surfaces of the teeth,” said Dr. Gamble. He continued, “Make sure you brush where the gums and teeth meet in a circular pattern. If this is a challenge you can use one of the many rechargeable electric toothbrushes that are very effective. There’s a little recess between the gums and the teeth and to ensure maximum effectiveness you should direct the toothbrush bristles in between.”
Better dietary habits, regular brushing, proper technique, the occasional tooth cleaning gadget and more – the ways to help prevent periodontal disease are seemingly endless. Finding the right combination of tooth care habits for you should be a priority, given the high rates of gum disease in the United States.
We’d like to thank everyone who responded. If you’re in the New England area and require dental care, please stop in to any Dr. Dental office today. With dozens of dental care facilities across Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey, we are the #1 network of dentists throughout the region. Thanks for visiting our website – and remember to check out our daily deals and discounts, including our exclusive New Patient Cleaning. We look forward to seeing you soon!