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You might not know that approximately 50 percent of American adults have some form of gum disease. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, while the more advanced stage is called periodontitis. If gum disease is left untreated, you can suffer tooth loss, and loss in your jawbone. Gum disease has also been linked to health issues affecting other parts of your body.

While gum disease can be caused any number of things including genetics, the biggest cause is the buildup of plaque and bacteria in your mouth. When the plaque and bacteria cause your gums to swell, they will pull away from your teeth, allowing more plaque to accumulate in places where your toothbrush cannot reach it. Swollen, tender and bleeding gums are signs of gum disease.

Your dentist can remove plaque and treat gum disease with a deep cleaning or other procedures. But there are steps that you can take to prevent it.

You should brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, and floss at least once a day, making sure to floss below your gumline. Your dentist can remove the plaque and tartar that you missed with your toothbrush, and can check for the early signs of gum disease and other problems. Any kind of tobacco use will increase your chance of getting gum disease, and will make the disease worse if you already suffer from it.

Your diet can help in the fight against gum disease. Lactic acid is useful in combating gum disease and it can be found in yogurt. There are also drinks on the market that contain lactic acid. Black tea has been found to counteract the acids and bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease. Also, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially vitamin C are useful in preventing gum disease. Try adding bell peppers, kiwi fruit, strawberries, and tomatoes to your meals.

If you have noticed that your gums are swollen, tender or bleeding, or if it is just time for your cleaning and exam, you can call 256-314-0676 to make an appointment to see Dr. Jamine Rogers at Shoals Smile by Design in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. We look forward to seeing you soon!