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Daily habits to help improve your gum health

When it comes to keeping your mouth healthy, what you do on a daily basis can have a significant impact on your oral health and how you respond to treatments.  Here are small daily habits you can practise to keep your gum health at its best and to optimise your chances of treatment success.

  • Brush for teeth twice a day

While this tip may seem obvious to many, it is often overlooked and easy to forget. By making sure that you brush your teeth twice a day you are giving your teeth and gums the best support that they need to avoid bacterial build up. Bacteria and the biofilm in which they survive (i.e., dental plaque) not only damage your teeth, they also irritate the gums and trigger the body’s inflammatory response. At mild stages, dental plaque may appear as a whitish/yellow layer over your teeth, which can make your gums red, swollen and tender to touch. Plaque deposits at this stage can be easily removed by practising regular brushing habits.

If they are left unremoved, the biofilm can then harden into thicker calculus which is tougher to remove. The hardened calculus can cause severe damage to your teeth and gums, leading to more severe issues such as receding gums or tooth and bone loss.

It is therefore important that you brush your teeth twice a day using optimal brushing techniques to avoid the build up of dental plaque and calculus. Don’t forget to clean in between your teeth too to maintain good oral health.

  • Reduce/ quit smoking

Smoking is as bad for your gum health as it is for your overall general health. Many studies have shown that people who smoke tobacco have worse gum disease compared to non-smokers. Smokers also show poorer response to periodontal treatments and have a higher risk of disease relapse. As nicotine masks the first and most obvious sign of gum disease i.e., bleeding, it is harder for people who smoke to know if they have gum disease and to receive timely care.

In addition, smoking is also the leading cause of cancer of the mouth, lung and throat and it is a leading cause of bad breath. Therefore, if you smoke daily or even just occasionally, quitting may be of significant benefit to your oral and general health.

  • Say no to alcohol

Studies looking into the relation between alcohol consumption and oral health have found that alcohol influences the bacterial balance in your mouth and increases the number of ‘bad bacteria’ which can lead to serious oral health problems. Drinking even one alcoholic drink per day can therefore result in an increased risk of diseases such as gum disease, cancer of the head and neck, heart disease etc. It may also worsen the symptoms for those already living with the condition. A more obvious effect of alcohol consumption is tooth staining, particularly if you like coloured alcoholic beverages such as red wine or dark beer. Not only do stained teeth make your smile appear dull and brown, they also act as a rough surface for more plaque accumulation, making it harder to remove.

In addition, as alcohol is a diuretic (i.e., it increases the amount of water and salt expelled from the body as urine), it can also lead to dehydration and dry mouth. This drop in saliva stops your mouth from effectively keeping itself clean in between tooth brushing, which in turn increases risks of plaque build-up, leading to dental decay and gum irritation.

  • Hydrate

This brings us to the next point- hydrate!! By making sure you are well hydrated, you reduce your risks of gum disease, cavities and other oral infections. Dry mouth can be one of the key signs of dehydration which deprives your body of essential fluids, including saliva and increases your risks of oral and dental disease as discussed above.

While it is recommended that you drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, be careful to avoid drinking fizzy and sugary drinks which can erode your enamel and damage your teeth. If you find it hard to keep a track of the amount of water you drink daily, you can keep yourself hydrated by making small changes to your eating and drinking habits. You can help re-hydrate your body by eating more water-dense food (e.g., salad, fruits). For those who struggle to drink plain water, you can also occasionally introduce healthy alternatives such as fresh coconut water or aloe vera juice instead of sugary drinks.

Did you know that your chances of de-hydration increases if you are a mouth breather? If you suffer from mouth-breathing, you can practise breathing through your nose to prevent your mouth from drying. You can also consider investing in a humidifier to increase the humidity of the air you breathe.

  • Manage your sugar intake

Reducing the amount of sugar you consume daily is another habit you should practise. Bacteria feed on the starch and sugar in your mouth to produce acid, which cause gum irritation, tooth decay and tooth loss.

Liquid forms of sugar, such as those found in sodas and sugary juices can easily seep into the crevices and gaps in your teeth mouth, which can be impossible to fully remove even if you brush meticulously. Accumulation of the sugary deposits in these hard-to-reach areas provide the perfect harbour ground for the bacteria to develop and breed. Also, non-liquid sugar can deposit on your tooth surface and get stuck in between your teeth. As saliva cannot easily flush away these larger deposits, they increase the risks of damage to your teeth and gums due to exposure to bacterial acid for a longer period of time. Sugar consumption is also associated with other conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease etc, which in turn affects your risks of gum disease. Therefore, by controlling your daily sugar intake, you give yourself the best chance to manage your dental and oral health. If you need to consume sugary snacks, make sure you limit this to mealtime and brush your teeth soon afterwards.

We ensure that each of our patients receive tailored advice and support to maintain excellent gum health. Get in touch with us now to find out more about how we can help you.