Periodontal disease includes gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums caused by the buildup of plaque, and periodontitis, a more serious condition in which the gums erode away from the tooth surface and toxins from the plaque damage the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place. Both are inflammatory processes that have been associated with myocardial infarction or heart attack. Prevention is best accomplished by twice daily cleaning of the teeth and gums, a diet that includes teeth-cleaning foods and semi-annual cleanings by a dental hygienist. But even without dental insurance and in-office cleanings, improvement may be achieved.
Brush your teeth twice a day with a medium bristle brush and a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association for the removal of plaque. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and brush each tooth The Modified Bass Technique of brushing allows the bristles of the tooth brush to slip under the gingiva that covers the top of each tooth and to dislodge material trapped there. According to the description of this brushing method in Delmar's Dental Assisting, brush each tooth for 10 seconds on the front surface and another 10 on the back. This can mean wiggling the head of the toothbrush up and down or making tiny circles on the tooth.
Brush the tongue and the upper palate of the mouth gently to decrease bacterial accumulation in these areas. After this, rinse the mouth to remove toothpaste, which can be irritating to fragile tissues of the mouth.
Floss or use an interdental stimulator if flossing is impossible. The dental floss should slip gently under the gums and slight bleeding is normal, especially if gingivitis is present. This is expected and should not prevent flossing. If you are trying to treat gingivitis at home; delaying a professional cleaning and the scaling of plaque; then consider flossing twice daily and brush after every meal. This increased frequency will increase the amount the gums are stimulated as each cleaning and flossing brings increased blood flow to the area.
Rinse after each episode of brushing and flossing using a mouthwash approved by the American Dental Association specifically for the treatment of gingivitis. If you have prescription drug coverage consider asking your primary care physician for a prescription for one of the antibacterial formulas not available over the counter. These may not be significantly more effective but purchasing them with your prescription coverage may be less expensive. Use only the amount recommended and do not dilute the mouthwash unless the label tells you to do so.
Eat anti-inflammatory foods to decrease gingivitis and periodontitis. According to Andrew Weil, MD, a Harvard educated researcher and author who focuses on the medicinal use of foods, these include 3 to 4 servings of fresh whole fruits, concentrating on berries, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and crunchy fruits which stimulate teeth and gums, as well as 4 to 5 servings of fresh, raw or steamed vegetables each day. Because omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation, Dr. Weil also recommends adding walnuts, avocados, olive oil, flax seed, salmon and other fish to the diet.