Most people hear the word gum disease and think that it doesn’t really affect them. However, the fact is that a huge percentage of the population suffers from this serious chronic health condition. It’s estimated by the American Dental Association that 47% of the population has mild, moderate or severe periodontitis (Advanced gum disease).
What is Periodontitis and Why is it Deadly?
It’s a fancy word used by dentists to describe a worsening gum condition. This gum condition has gotten a lot of press lately because it has been linked with a myriad of health problems like respiratory disease, heart problems, arthritis and even cancer. The reason it can do all of this harm is because it causes a low grade inflammation throughout your entire body. Low grade inflammation is the impetus needed for many chronic health problems to begin.
Health, Gingivitis, Periodontitis OH MY
In general, there are three possible states for your gums. We’ll go over them quickly so that you can see yourself where you stand:
- Perfect gum health. When someone has perfect gum health, the color of the gums or “gingiva” is pink. Gums are firm and don’t bleed when they are flossed, brushed or touched by your dental hygienist. People who have these types of healthy gums usually have some underlying good habits including flossing and brushing regularly.
- Gingivitis. Many people are confused by commonly used dental terms like gingivitis and periodontitis. The difference is simple. With gingivitis – the gums are simply inflamed. When you look at them, they are reddish around the teeth and they may bleed if you brush or floss them. However, most of the other dental things are ok – specifically, the bone that is supporting the tooth is still health and untouched.
- Periodontitis. Periodontitis is the worst type of gum disease. It varies in intensity but comes with the same basic premise – destruction of your dental health. Remember that 47% of people over 30 have this condition. Also keep in mind that this is a chronic condition. In other words – it never just “goes away.” It must be controlled for as long as you live in order to prevent loss of bone, sensitive gums and other issues that come along with advanced gum disease.
The good news – controlling gum disease is simple – you simply have to remove the food supply from bacteria and the gum disease naturally stops in its tracks. The natural question becomes, what do gum disease bacteria eat?
What’s on the menu? The food that gum disease bacteria LOVES.
When it comes to bacteria, the name of the game is plaque. Plaque is that white film, sticky substance that sticks to your teeth right next to the gum line. It looks pretty harmless but look under a microscope and you’ll find that some scary critters love to eat it up. The bad news about plaque is that the typical diet of a person in a developped nation is full of carbohydrates and soft sugary foods. This type of diet naturally causes plaque. In fact, people who eat mostly vegetables, fruits and hard foods have lower levels of plaque and are less likely to develop dental disease.
What to do about plaque?
So we know that plaque is the main enemy. We have to get rid of it if we want to prevent the harmful effects of gum disease bacteria. But it’s very difficult to remove right? WRONG! Plaque is soft and sticky so it’s very easy to remove. You just have to follow 2 easy guidelines:
- When you brush your teeth, make sure that you position your toothbrush at a natural 45 degree angle into your gum line. Any Youtube video will help you understand the basics of what is called the “modified bass technique.” OR if you want your toothbrush to automatically clean at the gumline as though a professional dental hygienist is brushing your teeth then get a Triple Bristle Toothbrush. The Triple Bristle toothbrush was developed by a dentist who realized that the current methodology taught to patients is confusing and overly difficult to implement. That’s why the Triple Bristle combines all the best parts of current toothbrush technology and puts them into a single product. The bristles naturally point 45 degrees into the gumline, sonic vibrations naturally disrupt plaque and create microbubbles that move fluids around and between teeth creating the most possible benefits for patients seeking to control their gum disease.
- Use some sort of method to clean well between your teeth. There are a variety of ways to clean well between your teeth and the key to remember is that there is no right way. You simpley have to do it. Here are 5 of the most popular ways to clean between your teeth. Just pick one and stick to it. It’s all about being consistent day in and day out. It’s all about disrupting plaque and not giving bad bacteria the chance to grow out of control and cause havoc in your mouth. Here are the best options based on what real patients are doing and what seems to be working:
- Traditional Floss. Dentists and those who are used to it, absolutely love using floss on a daily basis. However, those who don’t like learning how to do something and want instant gratification may find floss to be cumbersome. Here’s the key to flossing: make sure you form a “C” with the floss and after entering the area between teeth hug and rub up and down on each side of the tooth. Also make sure you go to the base of the gums to get rid of the plaque that’s deep within the gum pocket – that’s the plaque that creates the most damage.
- Flossers. Just like floss except it comes with a convenient plastic holder. The main benefit of flossers is that it does away with needing any manual dexterity and most people including children find that it’s the easiest way for them to use floss – and that’s GREAT! If you find flossers work better than by all means please use them. They will leave your gums in outstanding shape.
- Super Floss/Floss threaders. If you’ve had gum disease or dental decay problems for a while, you may find yourself with a lot of bridgework or dental implants. Anyone with these dental restorations knows too well that traditional oral hygiene approaches don’t work as well. For these people special tools have been made by a variety of manufacturers to allow them to enjoy the benefits of floss. The key to using this is the same as using traditional floss. After you gently put the floss between the teeth make sure that you rub up and down on both sides of the bridge so that you are properly cleaning the teeth BELOW the gum pocket.
- Gum Soft Picks. By far one of the most popular ways to clean between teeth with very good results being reported by dentists. This method is outstanding because it takes away any guess work or manual dexterity issues. All you have to do is gently tease the tip of the soft pick between each tooth. It works equally well for people who have natural teeth, or dental bridges and other restorations.
- Waterfloss. If all of the other options are not working out for you, you can also try flossing with water. Water flossing is a simple concept that is popular with people who hate floss and with children. All you do is fill up the reservoir with either water or a rinse and place the plastic attachment between each tooth and then press the button which activates a powerful stream that blasts plaque and food particles out of gum pockets. Those with a history of gum disease who know they have some trouble spots should use a gum rinse with essential oils or chlorhexidine to attach those areas. That way they can deliver some medicine and further help to control pesky bacteria.
Total Gum Health Is A Decision YOU Have to make
Now that you know what it takes to have healthy gums, the key question is: are you committed to making the changes in your daily lifestyle needed to accomplish outstanding oral health? Are you willing to invest in a Triple Bristle toothbrush? Are you willing to use an interdental cleaning tool every single day? Are you willing to visit your dental hygienist REGULARLY? These are all decisions you have to make and stick to. One thing you will find on your journey to outstanding oral health is that the end result is worth it. The fresh breath, whiter teeth, healthier gums and confidence is worth it.