Who knew? Poor dental health can be a dating deal-breaker, according to Match.com. Healthy teeth and pink gums are way more appealing then bad breath caused by gum disease. To help celebrate National Gum Care Month AND Kiss Day, here are some tips to help get your mouth into the best kissable shape possible!
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease, or periodontitis, is an infection. Bacteria in your mouth cause gum disease the same way bacteria can cause decay in teeth. When bacteria build up in the mouth, they form a film that coats the teeth called plaque. This plaque is loaded with many different bacteria. As these bacteria proliferate and metabolize ANY carbohydrate that you eat, they produce acids. These acids will initially cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and eventually cause breakdown of the attachment of your gums to the teeth and eventually cause destruction of the underlying bone that supports your teeth (periodontitis). As mentioned, this is an infection – the bacteria need to be controlled so the infection does not persist. The more bacteria present, the greater the likelihood that you have associated bad breath!
How to prevent gum disease
So how do you prevent gingivitis and periodontitis? It’s all about plaque control. Every day you must remove the plaque from your teeth; especially the plaque that rests right along the gumline. Brushing and flossing are the primary methods of plaque removal. If you thoroughly brush your teeth twice a day you can effectively remove most of the plaque around the teeth. Flossing aids in plaque removal from in between the teeth where a tooth brush just won’t reach. So, get in the habit of brushing AND flossing twice a day.
Keep your overall oral health in shape
What else can you do to ensure good overall oral health? Oral rinses that kill off bacteria are a good adjunct to brushing and flossing. Using a rinse after brushing and flossing help kill off residual bacteria. That means there are less bacteria present to colonize harmful plaque deposits around your teeth. A water pick is also effective in flushing plaque and debris out from between the teeth where plaque is more difficult to remove.
And if you’re wondering what is tartar, I’m glad you asked! When plaque hangs around on the teeth for days, weeks or even months (GROSS!) it will pick up minerals from the saliva and get “cemented” to your teeth. Hence the dental hygienist scraping or using ultrasonic machines to remove the tenacious tartar.
Regular professional cleanings are a must. For most people, twice a year is ok. For people more predisposed to gum disease, more frequently is best – let your dentist decide. Also using a toothpaste that contains fluoride is helpful. Fluoride helps prevent cavities, as we know, but it also helps to control bacterial growth in the mouth. And to keep your mouth healthy don’t smoke, don’t vape and keep the hard liquor to a minimum. Smoking and vaping will change the chemistry in your mouth and allow bad bacteria to thrive!
Go see your dentist, brush and floss (a lot) and keep your mouth kissably fresh!