National Gum Care Month: tips on taking good care of your gums

Did you know that almost half of adults in the UK have a degree of gum disease that is not reversible* and only 17% of adults who have their own teeth have no gum disease with very healthy gums**?

These numbers might sound scary, but don’t worry – gum disease can be prevented. As it’s National Gum Care Month 2023 we want to provide you with helpful information on how you can take better care of your gums, and to prevent gum disease. Not only will this limit the potential need for future treatment (and can save on cost), it will also ensure you have a happy and healthy smile for many years to come.

    What is gum disease?

    Advanced gum disease is when your gums become red, swollen and sometimes sore. They might also bleed when you brush your teeth, floss or eat hard foods. This can lead to bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth, your gums receding (shrinking) and bone loss (which supports the tooth) where your teeth become loose or fall out. In the early stages you may not notice any symptoms at all.

    There are two stages of gum disease. Early gum disease or gingivitis affects the gum tissue surrounding teeth. If this isn’t treated periodontitis can develop, where the bone in your jaw becomes damaged and small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth.

      National Gum Care Month Portman Dental Care

      What causes gum disease?

      One of the main causes of gum disease is plaque: the build-up of bacteria on your teeth. When it is left for some time, it hardens into calculus or tartar which provides a rough surface for plaque to stick to. If you don’t remove plaque and tartar professionally from your teeth by brushing and cleaning in between them regularly, it builds up and your gums react to the harmful plaque by becoming inflamed.

      "Everyone at some point in their life will have some form of gum disease. If we can catch it early, we can prevent it getting worse. If it’s left untreated, it can result in receding gums, bone loss, and ultimately may cost you your teeth. A lot of the work to keep on top of preventing it can be done at home" Paul, Dental Therapist at Portman Dental Care

        Preventing Gum Disease Portman Dental Care

        What you can do to prevent gum disease

        You can prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar by having a good home care regime, by visiting your hygienist or dental therapist regularly to have your teeth professionally cleaned – and of course seeing your dentist regularly too.

          Top tips for maintaining healthy gums

          • Clean between teeth using dental floss or interdental brushes
          • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes
          • Choose a toothbrush with a small head so you can reach every area (electric toothbrushes are best for removing plaque)
          • Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
          • Use gentle, circular movements and don’t press too hard
          • Brush the surface of every tooth and along your gumline
          • Spit and don’t rinse after brushing
          • Change your toothbrush regularly (every two to three months)
          • Cut down on sugar, as this is converted by the bacteria in plaque to acid – which causes tooth decay 

          The chances of getting gum disease increase as we get older, but it’s still important whatever age you are to keep on top of looking after your teeth and gums. Read more about children’s oral health here.

          Did you know? Mouthwash can make your mouth feel fresher, but it isn't a substitute for good brushing. In some cases, it can remove good bacteria in your mouth. If you like to use mouthwash, it’s best to use it either before or at a different time to brushing.

            Why should I see a hygienist or dental therapist?

            As well as looking after your smile at home, visiting a hygienist or dental therapist for a hygiene appointment at least once every six months is a crucial part of your overall oral hygiene routine. The benefits are:

            • They can get to those hard-to-reach places that you can’t get to
            • They’ll remove harmful plaque and deposits of tartar, that can cause gum disease, and other gum and tooth complications
            • They’ll give you tips and techniques, tailored to you, so you can maintain great oral health at home

            In some practices, a dentist or a dental therapist might provide this service as well as a hygienist. A dental therapist can do everything a dental hygienist can, and more. They have the skills and knowledge to provide many treatments, including white and silver fillings plus extracting baby teeth. Many of our practices offer Direct Access to hygiene appointments, instead of having to go through your dentist first.

              Hygienist Or Therapist Portman Dental Care

              Dental health check-ups

              A regular visit at least once a year to your dentist should be an integral part of your overall oral care routine. Even though the common terminology is ‘check-up’ it’s more than this really – it’s a thorough dental health examination. Your dentist will make tailored recommendations on how often you should have your teeth checked as part of your oral health routine.

              If you remember to look after your teeth and gums at home, visit your hygienist and have regular dental health check-ups with your dentist – you will help to keep your gums healthy and prevent gum disease. If you spot any of the early signs of gum disease, it is important that you visit your dentist as soon as possible. They will assess the problem and recommend a treatment that is right for you.

              *The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) 2021 **NHS Information Centre 2011

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