Gum disease starts when plaque builds up under and along the gum line. Plaque is a sticky film-like substance that’s filled with bacteria. It can cause infections that hurt the gum and bone, leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Plaque also can cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease.

 

 

 

Gingivitis causes your gums to become:

  • inflamed
  • tender
  • red
  • swollen
  • prone to bleeding

 Gum disease is preventable.

Here are a few ways you can help keep your gums healthy.

 

1. Floss

 Floss at least once a day. This helps remove the plaque and food that’s beyond  your toothbrush’s reach, according to the ADA. It doesn’t matter when you floss. Do it at night, do it in the morning, or do it after lunch… just do it!

 

 

 

 

2. Get regular dental cleanings

Your dentist can detect early gum disease symptoms if you see them on a regular basis. That way symptoms can be treated before they become more serious. A professional cleaning is the only way to remove tartar. It can also get rid of any plaque you missed when brushing or flossing. If you have gingivitis, brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings can help reverse it.

 

3. Quit smoking

Yet another reason for smokers to quit: Smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease. Since smoking weakens your immune system, it also makes it harder to fight off a gum infection, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Plus, smoking makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’ve been damaged.

 

 

4. Brush twice a day

Brush your teeth after every meal. This helps remove the food and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. Scrub your tongue too, since it can harbor bacteria. Your toothbrush should have soft bristles and fit in your mouth comfortably, says the Mayo ClinicConsider a battery-powered or electric toothbrush. These can help reduce gingivitis and plaque more than manual brushing. Swap toothbrushes or toothbrush heads every three to

5. Use fluoride toothpaste

As for toothpaste, store shelves are lined with brands that claim to reduce gingivitis, freshen breath, and whiten teeth. How do you know which one is best for healthy gums? Make sure to choose toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of acceptance. After that, the flavor and color is up to you!

6. Use a therapeutic mouthwash

Usually available over the counter, therapeutic mouthwashes can help reduce plaque, prevent or reduce gingivitis, reduce the speed that tarter develops, or a combination of these benefits, according to the ADA. Plus: A rinse helps remove food particles and debris from your mouth, though it’s not a substitute for flossing or brushing. Look for the ADA seal, which means it’s been deemed effective and safe.

It doesn’t matter whether your brush, floss, or rinse first. Just do a good job and use the right products.