Preventing Gum Disease When You’re at Risk for Heart Disease
Gum Disease and Heart Disease continued...
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you brush lightly at a 45 degree angle with short, side-to-side strokes. Do it twice a day. Don't be bashful about asking your dentist or hygienist for a refresher during your next appointment. A good ADA-approved electric toothbrush can also help remove some of the guesswork.
Flossing gets rid of the bacteria and plaque between the teeth, where brushes can't reach. While it's important for gum health, flossing is one of those things that many of us know we should do, but don't. One survey found that only about half of Americans floss daily.
If you don't floss every day, it's time to join the other half. Again, ask your dentist or hygienist for tips. Be gentle -- vigorously sawing at your gums will make things worse. If you have trouble holding the floss correctly, a simple device called a floss holder might help.
Get your teeth cleaned every six months
Regular dental cleanings and checkups are crucial for everybody -- and especially for people at risk of heart disease. Cleanings will keep plaque and tartar under control. If you do wind up developing gum disease, your dentist will catch it early.
Generally, experts recommend dental cleanings twice a year. Some people need them more often. Ask your dentist or hygienist what he or she recommends.
Consider an antiseptic mouthwash
If you have a problem with bacterial build-up in your mouth, your dentist might recommend an antiseptic mouthwash as an insurance policy. Some are available by prescription. However, don't think that swishing some mouthwash is a good alternative to brushing and flossing. It isn't.
If you don't smoke, great. But if you do, it's time to make an attempt -- or another attempt -- at quitting. You probably know that smoking is bad for your heart. You might not know that smoking is one of the top causes of gum disease; smoking also makes existing gum disease worse. People who smoke are up to seven times more likely to have bone loss in the jaw. Smoking can even prevent treatments for gum disease from working.