One of the most common causes of tooth loss is gum disease. Your gums protect your teeth from harmful bacteria, and if you don't properly care for your gums, harmful bacteria could deteriorate your bones and gums. Over time, deterioration in your mouth could result in tooth loss. 

The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more severe stage of gum disease called periodontitis. Along with tooth loss, severe cases of gum disease have also been associated with other diseases, like heart disease and diabetes.

Fortunately, you can prevent your chances of developing gum disease by regularly practicing the following oral hygiene habits.

1. Brushing

Food on your teeth can form into a sticky, colourless bacteria called plaque. Untreated plaque can harden into tartar, which causes gum disease.

Once tartar forms on your teeth, you cannot remove it by flossing or brushing. You will need a dental professional to remove it. You can prevent plaque from forming on your teeth by brushing your teeth after eating.

Always brush your tongue when you brush your teeth as bacteria tends to accumulate there. Also, do your best to brush at least two times a day and for three minutes each time. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and brush along your gum line.

2. Flossing

Another way to prevent gum disease is by flossing every day. When you floss, you remove plaque and food particles that get lodged in between your teeth. Often, flossing can reach areas that your toothbrush cannot. 

If you don't like flossing, try using a floss holder to receive the benefits of flossing while making the process easier and faster.

3. Using Mouthwash

You can also reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth by using mouthwash. Many times, not all food particles are removed by flossing and brushing. Mouthwash alone can remove up to 20% of the plaque from your teeth.

Keep in mind that mouthwash isn't a substitute for flossing and brushing. Instead, it is a way to further reduce the plaque in your mouth after you have brushed and flossed.

4. Eating Healthy

If you eat too many sugary or starchy foods, you can increase your chances of developing gum disease. Eat a healthy diet to ensure you have the nutrients needed to prevent gum disease, such as vitamin C and vitamin A. 

5. Visiting the Dentist Regularly

One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is by regularly visiting your dentist. When you visit the dentist, he or she can inspect your mouth for early signs of gum disease. Your dentist can also remove built up plaque from your teeth to help further prevent gum disease.

In severe cases, your dentist may recommend scaling and rooting. This process treats gum infections and periodontal pockets. Periodontal pockets that are larger than 5 millimetres deep can sometimes require surgery. Periodontal pockets are dangerous and allow bacteria to infect the gums or bones.

Most dentists recommend a dental checkup every six months. You may want to visit your dentist sooner if you notice early signs of gum disease.

Some signs of gum disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loosening teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Pus around the gums or teeth
  • Receding gum line
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Swollen, red gums

You should look for these signs especially if you are at high-risk for gum disease. Individuals who may be at high-risk include older individuals, smokers, and those with a family history of gum disease. Talk with your dentist if you believe you are at high-risk for gum disease.

Use these tips to help you reduce the risk of developing gum disease. If you are worried that you already have gum disease, talk with your dental professional for treatment options.