Just about everyone in your family has been diagnosed with gum disease. You do your best to brush and floss every day, but this family history has you nervous—and for good reason.
People with a family history of gum disease are more likely to develop the disease, but that doesn’t mean you have to be resigned to this fate. There are lifestyle changes you can make that will decrease your risk. And even if you do develop gum disease, if you take these steps it will help slow down the progression and make your case less severe.
So what can you do to reduce your risk? Here are six tips to get you on the right track!
#1. Visit your dentist regularly. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important. Getting your teeth cleaned twice a year will reduce the plaque build-up that leads to gum disease. And if you make regular checkups a priority, your dentist will have the opportunity to spot the disease early—when it’s much easier to manage. In fact, if he knows you have a family history of gum disease he may want to see you more often.
#2. Find a way to relieve stress. Believe it or not, stress can lead to gum disease. How? When you’re stressed, it’s more difficult for your body’s immune system to fight infection. Whether you sign up for a Yoga class or make an effort to reduce your workload, find a way to manage stress levels and you’ll be less likely to develop gum disease.
#3. Put the cigarettes out. If you’re a smoker, you up your odds of developing gum disease. The solution is simple: quit. Need more motivation? As a smoker, you’re seven times more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. Seven. The fact that you’re a smoker also lowers the success rates of some of the treatments your dentist might try to manage the condition. So find a support system and make a commitment to becoming a non-smoker.
#4. Improve your diet. You’ve been meaning to do this any way, right? Here’s one more reason. A well-balanced diet helps your immune system fight infection, leaving you less susceptible to developing gum disease. Look for foods rich in vitamin E, such as veggies, oils and nuts, as well as foods packed with vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, potatoes and broccoli.
#5. Don’t grind your teeth. If you’re a grinder, you’re putting excess force on your teeth’s supporting tissues. Why is that a problem? It will likely destroy tissue at a much faster rate, leading to gum disease.
#6. Follow your home care. This seems like an easy one, but it’s also something many people forget. Remember to brush and floss your teeth every day, and don’t just go through the motions. Learn the proper way to floss and make sure you brush for at least two minutes, hitting all four quadrants. This will be much more effective than spending 30 seconds brushing, and then only flossing where you can actually see food.
Unfortunately, if you’re genetically susceptible to gum disease, you are up to six times more likely to develop it. But if you follow these steps, you help reduce that risk, and the severity of the condition if you are diagnosed. Talk with your dentist about your family history. He may want to see you more than twice a year for checkups, cleanings and treatments, but that extra effort will go a long way in keeping your mouth healthy.