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According to some expert estimates, between 50 and 90 per cent of the British population experience some degree of gum disease1. This condition, also known as gingivitis, causes gums to become painful, swollen and infected. Bleeding gums and bad breath are a common symptom of gum disease. If the condition is left untreated, the infection might spread to the teeth, causing tooth decay and other complications, including decay of the jaw bone. Since the potential effects of gum disease are so serious, it is important to understand how this condition can be prevented.
The main element that contributes to the appearance of gum disease is dental plaque. The production of plaque is inevitable, but its accumulation on the surface and between the teeth is not. Plaque that is not adequately removed can cause cavities and other dental diseases. When plaque accumulates during a period of time, it hardens to the point of becoming mineralised, taking the form of tartar. Mineralised plaque can infiltrate the space under the gums, producing swelling, irritation, bleeding, and pain2.
It is therefore obvious that maintaining adequate levels of dental hygiene is an essential way of preventing gum disease. Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, and ideally, soon after every meal, as plaque begins to build up immediately after having eaten. Electric toothbrushes that perform oscillating and rotating motions are thought to remove more plaque than other brushes.
Because plaque can accumulate between the teeth, brushing alone is not enough. A complete dental care routine would also include flossing at least once a day, so as to remove debris that becomes trapped between the teeth. This measure should reduce the accumulation of dental plaque by 9 per cent. In addition, it is important to use an antiseptic mouthwash as the final step of a correct dental care routine.
Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption contributes significantly to poor oral hygiene. A four-year study published at the Journal of Periodontal Research showed that both cigarette smoking and regular alcohol consumption were risk factors that increased the chances of developing gingivitis and losing teeth3.
Antiseptic mouthwashes are not only a good way of preventing gum disease. These products are also effective in treating gum disease that has already developed. The regular use of antiseptic mouthwashes like Listerine may reduce the risk of gum disease by eliminating up to 97 per cent of the germs and bacteria that cause it.
Because diseased gums tend to be very sensitive, Listerine has developed a unique formula that is effective against bacteria and gentle with the affected gums. Instead of using harsh chemicals, Listerine mouthwashes include natural ingredients like menthol, eucalyptus oil, and thymol. These natural oils contribute to reducing swelling and irritation.
Maintaining adequate levels of oral hygiene is the key to preventing gum disease and other serious health complications. Remember that products like Listerine are there to complement your oral health habits in an easy, effective, and convenient way.
1Gum Disease: Treatments and Cures, 2011. Available at http://www.gumdisease.co.uk/ (Accessed 3rd July 2012)
2Bupa, 2011. Available at http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/d/caring-for-your-teeth (Accessed 3rd July 2012)
3Bergstrom, P., and Preber, H. (2006) "The influence of cigarette smoking on the development of experimental gingivitis", in Journal of Periodontal Research, 21 (6), pp.668-676