There are several reasons that now, more than ever, gum health is extremely important. One is the connection between gum health and your overall health. During the current pandemic, each and every one of us needs to be healthy and support our immune systems so that we can successfully fight the COVID virus, if necessary.
The second reason gum health is so important these days is that many people may be experiencing a lapse in their professional dental care due to the various restrictions and precautions we face in this pandemic.
Because gum health is so important, we want to give you important tips to keep your gums as healthy as possible!
Check Your Brushing Technique
Millions of people brush their teeth every day and leave plaque on them. The whole purpose of brushing your teeth is to remove dental plaque and the disease-causing bacteria it contains. The problem is that just brushing isn’t enough. You have to brush using the right technique.
The two most common site for dental plaque buildup are at the border where the teeth meet the gums and between the teeth. We’ll cover those between-the-teeth areas in the flossing section below. The reason many brushing techniques are wrong is because they do not remove plaque from the gumline.
In order to brush in a way that cleans away as much dental plaque as possible, you must make sure the bristles touch the gums.
The correct technique for brushing includes holding a soft-bristled toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and gently sweeping along the gumline in circular motions. This does not come naturally. Our natural instinct is to brush in an aggressive back-and-forth motion. This technique rarely touches the gums. The right brushing technique takes practice.
Upgrade to an Electric Toothbrush
If that sounds like too much work to you, you should consider an electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush will perform the appropriate motions, and all you have to do is make sure the bristles touch all the teeth. Everyone can benefit from the effective plaque removal of an electric toothbrush, and there are certain groups that especially need the extra help.
Patients who struggle to hold and manipulate a manual toothbrush, like those with physical or mental challenges, should always use an electric toothbrush. People on both ends of the age spectrum will also benefit from the help of the automated motion (young children and elderly). Ask your dentists what they use for their own home care. You’ll find that most prefer electric toothbrushes.
Floss. The Correct Way.
Like brushing, it’s not enough to just floss. You have to floss using the right technique in order to actually remove plaque from the areas between the teeth. Moving the floss in a straight vertical motion does not clean the sides of teeth. In order to do so, you must wrap the floss around a tooth once it has passed through the contact where two teeth touch. While wrapped in a C-shape around one tooth, then you move it vertically up and down, essentially using the floss to scrape the side of that tooth clean. You then clean the adjacent tooth in the same motion, wrapping the floss in the opposite direction.
If this doesn’t make sense to you, we are happy to demonstrate this technique for you. There are also some great Youtube videos explaining the technique when you search “C-shaped flossing”.
Use the Right Mouthwash
We actually only have one criteria for mouthwash to be “right”. It must be alcohol-free. Alcohol has a drying effect on the mouth and does not actually kill the bacteria that cause gum disease.
Many mouthwash brands claim various benefits in the mouth. While we do believe mouthwash can be helpful in many situations, it is not necessary for great gum health. We just want you to avoid the ones with alcohol so you don’t worsen things inside the mouth.
Treat Dry Mouth
Dry mouth affects millions of Americans as a side effect of many prescription medications. The problem with dry mouth in relation to gum health is that it leads to more plaque buildup along the gum lines.
As we explained earlier, this area is already prone to plaque buildup. In a dry mouth, there are two problems. There is more plaque, and it is harder to remove from the teeth. The dry environment makes the plaque stickier.
Patients with dry mouth struggle to overcome gingivitis and periodontal disease. Make sure that you are drinking lots of water and avoiding beverages that dehydrate you (like caffeine, sodas, and alcohol). You can stimulate saliva by chewing sugar-free gum throughout the day. We recommend a dry mouth gel by Biotene as a lubricant/moisturizer inside the mouth. You can also stimulate overnight saliva production with a product called Xylimelts (available over the counter and online).
More Questions about Gum Health?
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today to schedule a consultation with our skilled periodontists. We can answer any question you have about gum health and give you specific tips to help you stay healthy during this pandemic.