Gum diseases (sometimes called periodontal or gingival diseases) are infections that harm the gum and bone that hold teeth in place. When plaque stays on your teeth too long, it forms a hard, harmful covering, called tartar, that brushing doesn’t clean. The longer the plaque and tartar stay on your teeth, the more damage they cause. Your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. This is called gingivitis.
If gingivitis is not treated, over time it can make your gums pull away from your teeth and form pockets that can get infected. This is called periodontitis. If not treated, this infection can ruin the bones, gums and tissue that support your teeth. In time, it can cause loose teeth that your dentist may have to remove.
Here’s how you can prevent gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste)
- Floss once a day
- Make regular visits to your dentist for a checkup and cleaning
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Don’t use tobacco products
- Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums
Knowing how to brush and floss the right way is a big part of good oral health. Here’s how: every day gently brush your teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Small round motions and short back-and-forth strokes work best. Take the time to brush carefully and gently along the gum line.