When you consider that a single mouth can be home to over 6 billion bacteria, it is no wonder that occasionally we wake up with breath that is not so fresh. The thing to remember is all those bacteria can also be signs of unhealthy conditions in the mouth, and you may need to do more to prevent gum disease.
Gum Disease Definition
According to Dr. William J. Shiel, Jr., the Medical Definition of Gum Disease is the “inflammation of the soft tissue (gingiva) and abnormal loss of bone that surrounds the teeth and holds them in place.”
Gum disease and periodontal disease are the same thing. It is caused by a bacterial infection as a result, most often, of poor oral hygiene. Since it is relatively simple to prevent, it may be astonishing that half of American adults age 30 and over have some form of periodontal disease.
Signs of Gum Disease
The signs of gum disease are quite readily visible, so again, the prevalence of it is somewhat mind-boggling. If you experience light bleeding when you brush your teeth, that is a sign of periodontal disease; probably gingivitis, which is one of the most common forms of gum disease.
Signs of worse or more advanced gum disease include:
- Bad breath
- Periodontitis (inflammation and weakening of the gum tissue)
- Gum sensitivity
- Loosened teeth
Causes of Gum Disease
We will discuss the impact of good nutrition and proper diet a bit later, so for now let’s focus on how gum disease develops.
There are always bacteria in your mouth, as they are needed for processing food, and there are “good” bacteria that actually protect your mouth. As soon as food enters the mouth, the bacteria start breaking it down. If not cleansed from your mouth, the bacteria turn into a yellow, sticky plaque.
This plaque then becomes acidic and starts to attack the enamel of teeth and the soft tissue of your gums, leading to decay and gum disease.
Food→Bacteria→Yellow, Sticky Plaque→Acid→Enamel and Gum Decay→Gum Disease
How To Prevent It
You have been hearing the core principle of preventing gum disease since you were young, probably even before you remember hearing it. Good oral health care is how to prevent gum disease. So what does that mean?
Any brushing of your teeth is good of course, but for optimal dental care you must brush correctly. The keys to proper brushing are:
- Brush at least twice a day
- Brush for at least 2 minutes, 30 seconds per quadrant of your mouth
- Hold brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gums
- Brush in an elliptical pattern
- Use high-quality all-natural tooth oil and mouthwash
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush that correctly fits your mouth
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue!
The Impact of Nutrition
If tooth or bone decay has occurred, it cannot be reversed, but some foods may be able to remineralize your teeth to some degree, improving overall health and slowing the progression of decay and gum disease. Here are the do’s and don’ts of nutrition as it impacts your oral health.
- Eat a plant-based diet filled with firm fruits and vegetables
- Use honey on gums as an antibacterial
- Consider a blueberry or cranberry extract to curb plaque formation
- Rinse mouth with salt water
- Limit carbonated drinks, even diet or zero-calorie
- Use tobacco products
- Consume sugary drinks
- Eat too many sweets or simple carbohydrates (white pasta/rice, fast food, etc.)
Great Foods to Prevent Gum Disease
Eat foods that are high in calcium and phosphorous, such as dairy, nuts, and seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, edamame, almond kernel oil and more are not only great for your teeth and gums, but are excellent for overall health and wellness.
More Ways to Prevent Gum Disease
You can do more to prevent periodontal disease than just worrying about what you put in your mouth and how you care for it. Getting vitamin D through sun exposure has been shown to lower the occurrence of tooth loss. (Use sunscreen of course!)
There may be a link between stress and periodontal disease, so just relax. Take time for yourself, get adequate sleep, adopt a healthy way of eating, and try not to sweat the small stuff!
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