There is more than inflamed gums or tooth decay at stake if you fail to brush and floss. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause gum infections can also lead to or worsen atherosclerosis, the arterial disease that contributes to heart attacks and strokes. Start practicing these good oral habits if you don’t already:
- Use dental floss at least once a day (such as immediately after you brush in the morning or evening). I suggest using unwaxed dental floss if possible. Get it under the gum line to scrape the tooth surface. If you have the opportunity, ask a dental hygienist to teach you how to floss effectively.
- Whenever you have a chance, wash your hands and massage your gums with your fingertips. You can also stimulate your gums by running the end of a round wooden toothpick under the gum line.
- If your gums are sore, mix hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to a paste and work this mixture into and under your gums with a toothbrush. Leave the mixture on for a few minutes, then rinse.
- Use a goldenseal mouth rinse.
- Have your teeth and gums cleaned by a dental hygienist twice a year, and get treatment for any signs of infection that are discovered.
You may also consider toothbrushes incorporating ultrasound – they have been clinically shown to treat gingivitis more effectively than regular toothbrushes. Ask your dentist about them.
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