Gum disease can cause significant gum recession and teeth loss when left untreated and it is not exactly something that you would want for you, your partner and children. In Singapore, there are many ways to treat gum infection. Depending on the severity of the infection, your dentist may administer a wide range of treatments that include:
- dental cleaning
- scaling and root planing
- a full course of antibiotics,
- surgical treatments for gum and bone recession
- tissue regeneration treatments to reverse the damage
Gum infection treatment can cost a lot of money and can cause serious gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis when taken for granted.
It may sound cliché but prevention is always better the cure. The best way to avoid gum infection lies in our daily habits, especially on how we take care of our teeth and gums. Gum infection is caused by bacterial build-up (plaque and tartar) that have settled and hardened on the surface and the base of the teeth. This can be avoided by having healthy oral hygiene.
This article by Dr. Marlene Teo lists 5 helpful dental care and brushing tips so you and your family can avoid gum infection. Dr. Teo is the director of An Dental, one of the leading dental clinics in Singapore that specializes in gum infections and related diseases. Some of these tips you may have heard before and some may be new to you. Just stick around and learn how to take care of your own and your family’s teeth better.
1. Practice proper tooth brushing habits
Like most of my patients, a lot of people think that brushing every after a meal is ideal to completely clean the teeth and gums. However, brushing more than two times a day can damage the enamel that coats and protects your teeth. This can result in tooth sensitivity and your teeth become more susceptible to decay.
It is also important to teach your kids that the proper way of brushing their teeth is by brushing in circles, not back in forth for more effective results. Don’t forget to also clean your tongue and gums for an over-all clean and healthy mouth.
Also, use a toothbrush that has soft bristles to avoid damaging the teeth and gums. Softer bristles are also more effective in cleaning the in-between teeth where bacteria can settle and cause tooth decay and gum infection. This is especially important for your children because their teeth and gums are still developing so a gentle toothbrush is highly recommended for them.
2. Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes
Yes, you read that right. Many of my patients also get surprised when I tell this. In fact, a lot of people are not aware that the recommended length of time for a proper brush is 2 minutes. This is enough time to let the fluoride in your toothpaste to react to the teeth and do its cleaning action. This also allows you to clean every part of your mouth.
Most people, especially children do not brush their teeth long enough. Some even do it in less than a minute which is way less than the recommended brushing time. If you can, buy an electric toothbrush so you can set a timer every time you brush. You can also use your phone or stopwatch for a more practical tip. Make sure you supervise your children while brushing to ensure the health of their teeth and gums.
3. Do not rinse with water right after brushing your teeth
This is usually a big misconception about brushing your teeth. Even when you brush for at least 2 minutes but rinse with water right after, you are removing almost half of the fluoride that has attached to your teeth making it less effective. In my opinion, your effort of following the recommended brushing time may be a bit futile. The best thing to do is rinse with a mouthwash that contains fluoride. This way, you do not waste the fluoride from your toothpaste and enable the agent to do its cleaning function effectively.
Almost every dentist in Singapore and even worldwide would tell you about the importance of flossing your teeth regularly. Flossing removes plaque and tartar, the two main culprits that cause gum infection. It can be hard to create a habit of flossing but once you get started and see the results, it becomes easier to build on the habit over time.
5. Change your toothbrush every three months
Dentists around the world, including myself would always recommend brushing teeth twice a day. Given this frequency, in three months, you will have used your toothbrush about 180-200 times and the bristles will start to go all over the place and will not be able to clean your teeth effectively.
Using you’re the same toothbrush for longer periods allows bacterial build-up on the bristles and you wouldn’t want you and your family to have that. So, every three months, you need to replace all the toothbrushes in your house to keep everyone’s teeth and gums healthy.
Re-evaluate your hygiene habits
To keep your family safe from developing gum infection, it is best to re-evaluate your hygiene habits to keep your oral health intact. You may be brushing your teeth everyday but may neglect correct brushing techniques and cause more damage than good to your overall oral health.
As parents, you must guide your kids about proper brushing techniques and make sure that they follow the recommended brushing time and methods. Starting them young reinforces the habit and they’ll be able to carry it until the grow up.
Dr Marlene Teo
360 Orchard Rd, #03-06/07 next to Lido,
International Building, Singapore 238869
+65 8588 9868