Going to the dentist can be a real pain in the tooth—but with good at-home oral hygiene, it doesn’t have to be.
Our mouths are the first step in the digestion process, which means they’re exposed to things (like acid and sugar) that can stain, wear down the enamel of, and ultimately damage our teeth. However, it’s often the things you can’t see that become problems down the line. Healthy teeth need healthy gums to protect them and hold them in place, though we don’t always pay our gumline the attention that it deserves.
According to the Canadian Dental Association, seven out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some point in their lives. Some of these cases can become serious enough to put people at risk of losing their teeth.
But by making a conscious effort to take care of your gums and teeth and being mindful of what you brush them with, you can stay on top of your oral health (and feel confident during your next dentist appointment). With that in mind, consider the following five steps to keep your gums healthy and disease-free.
Don’t rush the brush
As a rule, you should be brushing your teeth twice a day—at minimum—for two to three minutes at a time. To ensure you’re meeting the required brush time, set a timer or play your favourite song while you’re brushing. You’ll want to have the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, moving back and forth in short strokes. You should also ensure that you’re brushing the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing (top) surfaces of your teeth.
Find the right toothpaste
Although having pearly whites is often our main concern when it comes to our teeth, it’s equally (if not more) important to care for the structures that house them: the gums. Using a toothpaste that cares for both is integral to your overall dental health.
Crest has developed a Gum Detoxify Toothpaste that’s proven to help prevent gingivitis. Created after years of research, it’s been specially formulated to target the millions of plaque bacteria around the gumline. It’s also formulated to cool your gums after brushing, leaving a refreshingly clean sensation in the mouth.
Brush in style
The type of toothbrush you use is also important in maintaining good gum health. Choose a soft-bristled brush in a size and shape that’s easy to manoeuver in your mouth. The bristles should be able to reach into the small spaces between your molars to brush out any food debris that may be collecting there.
In the same way that you wouldn’t want to use a dull, six-month-old razor to shave, you shouldn’t use a brush that’s abrasive or more than few months old to clean your teeth. Hard-bristled brushes (and hard brushing) can also recede gums, exposing them to further damage. Consider picking up an electric toothbrush, like an Oral-B Power Brush, that comes equipped with a round brush head and pressure control to ensure you’re not damaging your gums. Replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles begin to fray.
Don’t ignore the signs
Many people think that gums bleeding while brushing is normal, but it could actually be a sign of gum disease. Although bleeding gums aren’t necessarily a reason to sound the alarm, they may mean that your gums need a bit more attention to prevent any further progression towards a more advanced form of the disease.
Some other important symptoms to watch for include: bad breath that won’t go away; red, swollen or tender gums; pain when chewing; loose teeth; sensitive teeth; and receding gums.
Book and attend regular check ups
Whether or not you notice any of the symptoms above, going to your scheduled dentist appointments every six months plays a big role in disease prevention and is imperative to your overall oral health. There are certain things dentists can do that patients can’t, including taking x-rays to check the roots of your teeth, performing in-depth cleaning, and checking for inconsistencies or warning signs that you may not be able to identify on your own.
Like all the bones in your body, you want your teeth to remain in good condition well into the future. Taking care of your gums can prevent painful and expensive tooth decay and loss. Keeping up with dental hygiene may feel time consuming, but adding on an extra couple of minutes of brushing each day, scheduling a couple of hours out of the year to get a check up, and selecting the right toothpaste to protect your gums is a small price to pay for a clean bill of health.