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Monday, September 27, 2021

Gum health 101: how to keep them healthy, and why it’s so important

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Where do wasps go in the winter? Why do so few words rhyme with orange? And what do our gums do?

Yep, there’s a whole heap of things we don’t give much thought to, but some things matter more than others. Understanding how important our gums are and how to keep them happy and healthy is one of those things.

“Most of us will get gingivitis – which is known as early gum disease – at some point,” says Dr Ian Dunn, a leading periodontist, who specialises in gum disease. “This is commonly caused by bacteria from plaque buildup that leads to an infection of the gum tissues.”

An early tell-tale sign that something is up? Blood in the sink after brushing or flossing.

“Unlike toothache or sensitivity, gingivitis doesn’t usually cause pain, but instead you might notice red, swollen, bleeding or receding gums. If left untreated and the problem becomes severe, it can cause more issues to the gum tissue and lead to tooth loss.”

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, here’s how to give your gums the love they deserve …

(PS – in case you’re wondering, wasps die after the summer, but the queens go into hibernation, and one of the few words that rhymes with orange is “sporange” – a part of a fern – so high five if you got that!)

Boss the basics

You can buy all the latest whitening products, have the whizziest of toothbrushes, and never dream of opening bottles of lager with your teeth *shudders* – but if you don’t show your gums extra care, your smile may not be as pristine as you think.

First things first, don’t underestimate the importance of nailing the basics.

“Most people think they’re brushing for about two minutes twice a day, but they’re probably only doing it for 30 seconds,” says Dunn. “A timer can be a real eye-opener.

“The other problem is that many people brush erratically, but it’s important to be methodical so you’re cleaning all your teeth and gums well.”

Know your angles

Whether you’re on team #manual or team #electric, it’s not so much your choice of toothbrush that matters, but how you use it.

The advice is to hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to reach in between the teeth and to move purposefully around your mouth, covering all the inner and outer surfaces of your teeth (upper and lower), as well as the chewing surfaces. “Don’t forget that gum line – it’s super susceptible to a buildup of food and plaque bacteria,” says Dunn.

“Avoid being heavy-handed, too – harder isn’t better. In fact, brushing too hard or too much, or using a worn toothbrush, can be harsh on your gums.”

To keep gums healthy, don’t scrub up and down with your toothbrush – which can contribute to gum erosion – instead use gentle circular motions. And remember: dentists advise changing your brush or brush head every three months, or as soon as the bristles start to bend.

Dental Equipment, floss toothbrush and toothpaste
Brushing’s not the end of the routine – remember to floss as well. Photograph: supermimicry/Getty Images

Target issues with your toothpaste

If you’re the kind of person who just grabs any tube of toothpaste without giving it much thought, it’s time to get selective. Choosing one that cares for your teeth and your gums is important – particularly if you regularly spit blood when you brush.

Corsodyl Complete Protection toothpaste is 50% more effective at reducing bleeding gums than regular toothpaste*. It’s also four times more effective at removing plaque* – the main cause of gum disease – thanks to its unique formula of high levels of extra-fine sodium bicarbonate.

Join the floss posse

If you’re the kind of person who thinks flossing isn’t for them, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone.

Whether you prefer tape, floss sticks or interdental brushes, scraping away food, bacteria and plaque that get in between your teeth and under your gum line can make a big difference to your oral health.

The trick to getting it right? Don’t move the floss or interdental brush in and out – instead gently angle the floss or brush so you’re cleaning around the whole tooth and gum line.

Need some help with your technique? Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist or hygienist to give you some pointers at your next visit.

Notice blood? Don’t panic.

“It’ll take around seven to 10 days for your gums to settle down and for flossing to help sort the inflammation – so keep it up, ensuring you’re being gentle and using a good technique,” says Dunn.

Don’t avoid your checkups

It’s the advice no one wants to hear, but regular dentist appointments are an absolute must.

Your dentist may recommend a scale and polish, which removes the tartar that your toothbrush and floss hasn’t, helping to keep gums healthy and polishing away stains and unsightly brown plaque.

A trip to the dentist isn’t as thrilling as a trip to the hair salon, but knowing you have happy, healthy teeth and gums will give you a smile you can’t shake off.

Healthy gums don’t bleed – if yours do, it’s time to take action. Brushing with Corsodyl toothpaste twice a day is clinically proven to help stop and prevent bleeding gums – so that’s one thing off your to-do list. To find out more, head to corsodyl.co.uk/products/toothpaste

*With twice daily brushing. For verification, email customer relations: customer.relations@gsk.com

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