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Wednesday
May182011

Preventing gum disease is easy.

My most important goal in my career as a dentist is to educate people about gum disease — not just how prevalent and serious a condition it is, or how to detect it and treat it, but especially how easy it is to prevent.

Nearly three out of four Americans suffer from some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. It is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and can contribute to a myriad of other health problems, but it simply does not have to be so. Preventing gum disease is simple and inexpensive. Everyone can do it.

Your best weapons against gum disease are a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss,. Use these cheap, widely available items daily, and the battle is won! Granted, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about brushing and flossing, so, let’s review just how it’s done.

 

Selecting a toothbrush

At Dr. Curtis Roy & Associates, we encourage patients to use the Roto-dent — an electric brushing/flossing tool clinically proven more effective at removing plaque than traditional toothbrushes. But, any old toothbrush will do the trick with the correct technique and proper persistence.

Whatever style or brand you choose, opt for soft bristles, as harder bristles can be too abrasive on your teeth, wearing away at the enamel, which is certainly not what you want to do. Consider also the size of your mouth. If your mouth is small, you might have trouble maneuvering a full-sized toothbrush around. Compact toothbrush heads are ideal for smaller mouthed people.

 

Selecting a paste

Any fluoride paste will do, but those that claim to offer “tartar control” or rebuild enamel may offer additional protection. Some people find the taste of some of these unappealing, however. If you do not enjoy the taste of your toothpaste, regardless of its claims, shop around for another. You are likely to brush more frequently if you enjoy the taste, so choose one you find palatable.

 

The act of brushing

Being vigilant is key here. For optimal dental health, brush every morning, after every meal and snack, and in the evening prior to going to bed. Few people are able to maintain this level of vigilance, and that’s okay. Aim for a minimum of two brushings a day, once in the morning and once at bedtime. Try to work in additional brushings whenever possible. Keeping a toothbrush and paste at the office, in your vehicle or in your purse will make it easier to work these into your day.

Don’t rush through it. Take your time, making sure to cover the front, back and chewing surfaces of each tooth. Swish and spit afterward to remove food particles that may still be clinging to your teeth.

 

How to floss

Ideally, you’d floss after every meal. Believe it or not, some people do! But most people struggle with fitting it in. Flossing at least once a day is great. Once every other day is good. Even once a week is better than never. Just remember, the more frequently you floss, the better you will protect against gum disease. And here’s something important to note: If your gums bleed when you floss, it’s a sign that you aren’t doing it often enough and that gum disease is setting in. As counterintuitive as it may seem, start flossing more often, and your gums will stop bleeding, and the gum disease will start going away. Give it a try!

Some people prefer traditional dental floss. Other people find flossers — short strips of floss set into a plastic stick — easier to use. Again, as with paste, choose whichever you will be more likely to use with greater frequency.

 

Curtis H. Roy, D.D.S., has served Acadiana residents with a general dentistry and specialty practice since 1970. Find his practice on the Web at www.drcurtisroyandassociates.com, visit the office at 3703 Johnston St., Lafayette, or call 981.9811, and look for him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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