Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, accounts for some of the most common infections in the United States. More than 75% of American adults over age 35 have some form of periodontal disease, even if they're unaware of it. In a recent survey, eight out of ten Americans claimed they did not have periodontal disease, yet seven out of ten exhibited one or more symptoms.
Periodontal diseases - including gingivitis and periodontitis - are painless until the reach advanced stages. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause bad breath; red, swollen and bleeding gums; and eventually, tooth loss. In fact, periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
The good news is that periodontal disease is not only treatable, it's preventable. Following these simple techniques will greatly reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Brushing Up On Brushing
Careful and regular brushing removes plaque. It also increases circulation in gum tissue. Use a small, soft, angled brush with rounded bristles. Replace the brush whenever it gets worn or frayed. Brush at least twice a day and be sure to clean all tooth surfaces thoroughly.
Hold the brush at a 45 angle to the gum line and gently brush the outer surfaces using a tiny back-and forth or circular motion. Don't scrub.
Brush the inner surfaces of the back teeth using the same back-and-forth or circular motion.
Turn the brush and use the tip to clean the inner surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth.
Clean the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Here, you can use a scrubbing motion. Brush your tongue, then rinse well.
The Facts of Flossing
Daily flossing removes plaque from between teeth and under the gum line, where brushing can't reach. Floss at least once a day, using the type of floss suggested by your doctor. Be sure to floss both sides of each tooth. You can floss before or after brushing.
Wrap 18 inches of floss around your middle fingers. Secure it with your index fingers and thumbs.
Ease the floss between two teeth. Work the floss up and down, rubbing the floss first against one tooth, then the other. Be sure to work the floss under the gum where plaque collects.
If you have a bridge or wear braces, use a floss threader to get the floss under the bridge or the wires.
Plagued by Plaque
Plaque is constantly forming on your teeth, and needs to be removed every day. That's why daily brushing and flossing is so important. Without consistent care at home, your periodontal disease may return and worsen -- even after professional treatment.
Your doctor and dental hygienist will design a home care program for you. Following this program will help keep your teeth and gums clean and free of plaque.
If you have implants, braces, or bridges, or if you have trouble flossing or brushing correctly, these and other special aids may be recommended:
• Powered toothbrushes for cleaning teeth and gums
• Proxobrushes clean and remove plaque from small, tight spaces
• Gum Stimulator for interdental cleaning and gingival massage
• Interdental Brush for cleaning around bridgework or implants
• Dental Floss & Super Floss for cleaning bridgework or implants
• Prescription Antibacterial Mouth Rinse to slow the growth of plaque