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The Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene: Reducing the Risk of Gum Disease & Tooth Decay

toothbrush with toothpaste on it and bottle in background

We've heard it all our lives - “brush your teeth,” “be sure to floss,” and “rinse with mouthwash!” But this isn't something that dentists tell their patients just to hear themselves speak; it's actually important advice to support oral health and help prevent harmful diseases.

Practicing good oral hygiene not only makes you feel good and want to smile more often, but it also reduces the risk of unwanted issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. 

You may have heard of these oral diseases before, but what exactly are they and how can they be prevented?

Reducing the Risk of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection that damages the gums and, in more serious cases, can even destroy jawbone. It is caused by bacteria, or plaque, in the mouth that multiply and stick to your teeth. When this happens, the immune system goes into action to try to fight the bacteria, and inflammation occurs as a result. If you have the following symptoms, these may be early signs of gum disease:

  • Red, swollen, and tender gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose/shifting teeth
  • Bloody gums after brushing teeth
  • Bad breath/bad taste in mouth

Gum disease is a common ailment that can be prevented by healthy oral hygiene practices. Those with early signs of gum disease may prevent it from worsening by visiting a dentist for a teeth cleaning to remove plaque, as well as brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using mouthwash as part of a regular oral health routine.

If gum disease goes untreated, it can cause great discomfort like tooth pain, as well as tooth and jawbone loss. In these cases, a visit to an oral surgeon may be necessary in order to repair the damage. 

However, it's important to visit your dentist regularly for a cleaning and dental exam in order to reduce the risk of gum disease and to save yourself from the inconvenience and discomfort caused by its symptoms.

Preventing Tooth Decay

In addition to reducing the risk of periodontal disease, good oral hygiene will help prevent tooth decay. 

But what is tooth decay? 

Tooth decay destroys the enamel on your teeth. It is caused when a sticky film of bacteria, aka plaque, forms. The plaque reacts with sugars from food and beverages and produces acids that wear down the enamel on your teeth over time. This, in many cases, causes cavities.

Cavities are one of the world's most common oral health issues, and are mostly found in children, teenagers, and older adults. However, if you don't fall into those groups, that doesn't mean you're immune to the effects of tooth decay. In addition to cavities, older adults may experience tooth decay in existing dental fillings. These fillings weaken over time and bacteria may form in any cracks or crevices, which, in turn, causes tooth decay to occur. 

Cavities and tooth decay that are left untreated can cause worse problems in the long run. Signs of tooth decay include:

  • Tooth pain
  • Holes or pits in your teeth
  • Surface stains
  • Tooth sensitivity 

Tooth decay is no fun for anyone, that's why making sure you take care of your oral hygiene should be high on your list of priorities. Reduce the risk of tooth decay by brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing at least once a day, using a dentist approved mouthwash, and making appointments with your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and exam.

Make an Appointment Today!

To really keep your smile looking its best, make an appointment with the friendly and professional staff at Carolina Family Dental today.