What to do to keep gums healthy

Practicing good oral hygiene is the most important action that a person can take to prevent and treat gum disease. Most people tend to overlook their gums when it comes to oral health and focus on getting a bright, white smile instead. However, healthy teeth require healthy gums.

Gum disease can lead to tooth loss. However, most people can prevent gum disease by adopting proper oral hygiene practices. Steps to take include brushing the teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and taking care when rinsing out the mouth. ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste is available to purchase online.

Simple at-home oral care and dental checkups can help prevent and reverse gum disease. If a person begins to show any of the signs of gum disease, such as pain in the gums that lasts for longer than a week, they should see their dentist.


1. Brush the teeth properly

Senior man brushing teeth in front of bathroom mirror.
Brushing the teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste can help keep gums healthy.
Brushing the teeth properly is key to having a healthy mouth and gums. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommend that people follow the guidelines below:

  • Brush at least twice a day using a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Replace the toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles begin to fray.
  • Brush the teeth at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Move the toothbrush in short strokes.
  • Press gently.
  • Clean the insides of the front teeth by turning the brush vertically and making several short strokes along each tooth.


2. Choose the right toothpaste

The toothpaste aisle in most stores will contain many varieties of toothpaste, from whitening products to formulas containing baking soda.

When choosing toothpaste, a person should ensure that it contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of approval on the packaging.


3. Floss daily

Many people neglect daily flossing, but the ADA recognize this habit as an important part of oral care.

Flossing removes food and plaque from between the teeth and gums. If the food and plaque remain in these areas, this can lead to tartar, which is a hard buildup of bacteria that only a dentist can remove. Tartar can lead to gum disease.


4. Rinse your mouth out with care

Many people rinse their mouth out after brushing their teeth. However, oral hygiene practices should complement the effectiveness of fluoride products, such as toothpaste.

When a person washes their mouth out with water after brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, they wash away the fluoride.

Conversely, when a person rinses their mouth out after eating, they may rinse away food and bacteria that can lead to plaque and tartar.


5. Use mouthwash

According to the ADA, there are two types of mouthwash: therapeutic and cosmetic. Both are available over the counter.

A therapeutic mouthwash can help:

  • prevent gum disease
  • reduce the speed at which tartar builds up
  • reduce the amount of plaque on the teeth
  • remove food particles from the mouth

However, people should not use mouthwash as a replacement for brushing and flossing.

A person should look for the ADA seal. This seal indicates that the manufacturer has demonstrated enough evidence to support the product’s safety and effectiveness.

The ADA state that children under the age of 6 years should not use mouthwash.


6. Get regular dental checkups

Dental checkups typically include a professional cleaning of the mouth. Professional cleaning is the only way to remove tartar from the teeth. Professional cleaning can also help eliminate the plaque that a person may have missed when brushing their teeth.

With regular visits, a dentist can help identify the early signs of gum disease and gingivitis, a condition in which the gums become inflamed. Early detection can help prevent more severe problems from occurring.


7. Stop smoking

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking makes a person more susceptible to gum disease because it weakens the immune system.

The CDC recommend quitting smoking immediately to help reduce the risk of developing gum disease. The use of other tobacco products can also increase a person’s risk.


When to see a dentist

A person should see their dentist if they experience bleeding or pain in their gums that lasts for longer than a week. Swollen and red gums that bleed easily are a symptom of gum disease.

Some other signs and symptoms to look for include:

  • gums that pull back from the teeth
  • gums that bleed easily
  • swollen, red gums
  • sensitive teeth
  • teeth that feel loose in the mouth
  • pain while chewing
  • dentures no longer fitting correctly

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