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Oftentimes when we think of our oral hygiene, our minds drift to our teeth but not far beyond. The truth of the matter is, however, that your entire mouth is integral to your overall oral health and things like your tongue and gums can’t be overlooked! Just because you don’t have cavities or you’ve got a glowing white smile doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Gum disease is an often painless affliction that can creep up on you if you aren’t careful. This disease initially begins as gingivitis, a bacterial infection that occurs when plaque and tartar build up around the gum line, causing your gums to become inflamed. Left unchecked, gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss, decay, and even a host of overall health issues like stroke and heart disease. Luckily, gingivitis—and, therefore, gum disease—is a highly preventable and treatable ailment that you can avoid with the right care! Read on to discover the best ways you can defend your gums.

1. Yes, Flossing is Actually Important

You’ve been told time and time again that this is one of the most important things you probably aren’t doing, and there’s never been a better time to start than right now. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing at least once a day to remove extra bits of food and particles from between your teeth.

2. Quit Smoking

Like flossing, you’ve undoubtedly heard for years that smoking is a habit best left in the 20th century. There is a strong correlation between smoking and gum disease because smoking compromises your immune system, which allows bad bacteria to grow faster in your mouth. Smoking also makes it harder for your body to fight off infections once they’ve formed.

3. Visit the Dentist

This may seem like a no brainer, but going for routine checkups and cleanings is vitally important in the fight against gum disease. Your dentist will be able to diagnose early signs of gingivitis so you can fight the problem before it grows. Professional cleanings are also the only way to remove tartar and hard-to-reach plaque. If you’ve already developed gingivitis, routine checkups are as crucial in reversing it as brushing and flossing.

4. Brush at Least Twice a Day

Brushing in the morning and at night is a great defense against plaque and the eventual development of gingivitis. If you can, brush your teeth after lunch as well to help remove as many food particles as possible from your mouth. Your nighttime brushing should happen right before bed, after you’re completely done eating for the day to ensure all excess food and bacteria is removed from your mouth before sleeping. It’s also important to use a fluoridated toothpaste to strengthen enamel and keep your mouth clean. Be sure your toothpaste is ADA approved before purchasing.

Keeping your mouth free of gum disease is easy, so long as you follow a few simple steps! If you’ve fallen behind on your oral health, there’s no need to fear or feel ashamed.

Give us a call at Downtown Dental in River North and the Loop today to schedule an appointment and get your mouth back on track!