How can gingivitis be prevented?

Gingivitis can be reversed in nearly all cases when proper plaque control is practiced. Proper plaque control consists of professional cleanings at least twice a year and daily brushing and flossing. Brushing eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached. Flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line.

Other health and lifestyle changes that will decrease the risk, the severity, and the speed of gum disease development include the following:

  • Stop smoking. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for development of periodontitis. Smokers are seven times more likely to get periodontitis than nonsmokers, and smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments.
  • Decrease your stress. Stress may make it difficult for your body's immune system to fight off infection.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition helps your immune system fight infection. Eating foods with antioxidant properties—for example, those containing vitamin E (including vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables) or vitamin C (including citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes) can help your body repair damaged tissue.
  • Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth. These actions may put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these tissues are destroyed.

The American Academy of Periodontology says that up to 30% of Americans may be genetically susceptible to gum disease, and may be up to six times more likely to develop some form of gum disease. If anyone in your family has gum disease, it may mean that you are at greater risk as well. If you are more susceptible to gum disease, your dentist or periodontist may recommend more frequent check-ups, cleanings, and treatments to better manage the gum disease.

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