Gum disease is so common and often happens so gradually, most people don’t know they have it. It can also have serious long term consequences if left to progress unchecked, so it’s important to know what signs to look for and how to prevent it. Here is one way to improve gum health that’s surprisingly simple.
Oral Hygiene’s Best Kept Secret (That’s Not a Secret)
It may sound too good to be true, but one of the most effective ways to improve your gum health is to floss. Dentists recommend flossing daily to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean of food debris and plaque. Flossing can reach lots of areas that brushing alone cannot, which is important because it’s those hidden and hard-to-reach areas where plaque and tartar can accumulate and lead to cavities.
Why Do My Gums Bleed if Flossing is Good for Them?
It probably seems counterintuitive to do something that makes your gums bleed with the hope that it’s going to improve the health of your gums, but that’s exactly why it’s important. If you haven’t flossed regularly in a while and your gums bleed, it’s a sign that they are inflamed or unhealthy, and gum inflammation is usually caused by exposure to bacteria. This one way to improve gum health makes all the difference in the world.
Food debris and plaque can stick to teeth, especially in the areas between teeth, and become a safe harbor for bacteria to thrive and erode the enamel or outer surface layer of the tooth as well as irritate your gums. When you brush and floss your teeth, it helps to keep this bacteria off your teeth and away from your gums, protecting them from inflammation and infection. As you get into a regular daily habit of brushing and flossing, your gums should soon become healthier, less tender, and less prone to bleed.
When to Talk to a Dentist About Your Gums
Now that we’ve talked about flossing as one way to improve your gum health, you’re probably feeling fairly confident about your home care routine. That’s great! It’s also important to follow up with your dentist, especially if you’re noticing signs of inflammation like bleeding, to ensure that there isn’t any preexisting infection or tooth decay below the gum line.
A professional dental cleaning is also a great idea, along with an exam, to help give your gums a head start on the road to good health. During a professional cleaning, the dental hygienist can clean along and under the gum line with a pressurized water tool, if needed, to help deep clean areas that may have gone unreached by brushing or flossing.
How to Floss Correctly
It’s true that one way to improve gum health is to floss and it’s crucial to make sure you’re doing it correctly, so here’s some simple instructions. Cut 14-18 inches of floss. It seems like a lot, but it’s important to have a fresh, clean section of floss for each tooth. Wrap the floss loosely around the middle fingers on both hands, then use your index fingers and thumbs, with about 2 inches of floss stretched between them, to control the floss and guide it between each tooth and back and forth under your gum line.
Your dentist will also be happy to demonstrate the correct way to floss and answer any questions you may have at your next visit, so don’t hesitate to ask for help! Many people don’t floss or don’t floss correctly, so they’ll be glad to hear you’re flossing and glad you asked.
Call our Leawood, KS, dental office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.