Taking care of your health has never been easier. Supermarkets have blood pressure machines next to the pharmacy, and medical care centers are a staple in suburban shopping centers across the U.S. Some will even fill your prescriptions at the end of the visit.
But, are you taking as good care of your gums as the rest of your body? For many people, the answer is no. Nearly 50% of adults 30 years old or older have periodontal disease in the U.S., and that number spikes to 65% in adults 65 years old or older. And it’s not a disease that’s readily discussed, despite the fact it’s 2.5 times more common than diabetes.
Studies show that smiles make you look more attractive, lower stress, elevate your mood and make you look younger. On the other hand, gum disease can lead to social anxiety and discomfort from loss of teeth and bad breath. Yet, many people don't take proper care of their gums. In fact, a 2015 survey from the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) showed that 27% of U.S. adults lie to their dentist about how often they floss their teeth, with 14% saying they’d rather clean the toilet than floss. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it?
The good news is that gum disease is preventable, or reversible, if people follow these 5 Simple Tips for Healthy Gums:
- Brush twice a day (morning and night) and floss at bedtime. Each activity should take about 2 minutes, although flossing can take a little longer until you get the hang of it. The sequence doesn’t matter as long as you do a thorough job.
- Visit a periodontist once a year. While regular dental checkups are always important, periodontists receive an additional 3 years of training after dental school and have the necessary expertise and experience to most effectively treat gum disease.
- Watch your diet. Cut down on foods that are high in sugar such as cakes and cookies, and avoid sugary drinks like lemonade and cola whenever possible. Your gums—and your waistline—will thank you.
- Know the early warning signs. Symptoms of periodontal disease include red and swollen gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing receding gums, loose teeth, pus between the gums and teeth, mouth sores and persistent bad breath. If you have one or more of these symptoms, make an appointment to see a periodontist immediately.
- Check out Gumblr.org. This fun, educational website from the AAP will help you find a local periodo
MORE ABOUT DR. WAYNE ALDREDGE
Dr. Wayne Aldredge President of the American Academy of Periodontology, is also on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern Society of Periodontists—the largest regional periodontal society in the United States—and a former President of the New Jersey Society of Periodontists.
MORE ABOUT THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PERIODONTOLOGY
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is an 8,400-member professional organization for periodontists - specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also dentistry's experts in the treatment of oral inflammation and receive three additional years of specialized training following dental school. Periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.
The Academy's purpose is to advance the periodontal and general health of the public and promote excellence in the practice of periodontics.