Plus, how mouthwash can help keep them healthy.
There’s a lot of focus on teeth when discussing oral health, but the gums surrounding those 32 chompers may really be what matters. “If you want your teeth [to last], you should care about your gum health,” says dental hygienist
Hadeer Scolaro, R.D.H.
Why are your gums so important to overall oral health? And what can you do to treat them right? Here, the dental experts from LISTERINE® break it down.
Your gums—also called gingiva—are the connective tissue in your mouth that line your upper and lower jaws. “Gums are one of the things keeping your teeth in place and are also a barrier against bacteria in your mouth,” Scolaro explains.
Oral bacteria, while normal, can cause a lot of issues. “Bacteria come from things you eat and are also naturally-occurring in your mouth,” Scolaro says. “If left untreated, those bacteria will keep multiplying.”
When bacteria stay on your teeth long enough, they create a film called plaque which can harden into tartar (also known as calculus) that can spread below the gum line. If not taken care of, the bacteria and build-up can cause inflammation in your gum tissue, Scolaro says, leading to bigger issues like gum disease. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), gingivitis—the early stage of gum disease—can cause symptoms like redness, bleeding, and inflammation of the gums.
Problems in the mouth don’t always stay in the mouth, though. Dentist Simone Ellis, D.M.D., points out that oral health can have a larger impact on your overall health. “Your gums protect your mouth from bacteria that can cause disease,” she explains.
At a basic level, the ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist every six months for an exam and professional cleaning. But optimal oral care goes further than that, Scolaro says. “Daily flossing, brushing twice a day for two minutes, and using a LISTERINE® mouthwash twice a day for 30 seconds helps.”
When it comes to brushing, don’t just clean your teeth. “Cleaning the gum line is very important because that’s where a lot of the bacteria is harboring,” says Scolaro, who recommends turning your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brushing gently rather than aggressively. “Brushing along your gums also helps bring blood flow to the area, [which helps keep them healthy].”
Using a LISTERINE® mouth rinse is an added element to help tackle residual bacteria lurking in those hard-to-reach spots that you can’t get to with a toothbrush or floss, Scolaro says. “The antiseptic rinse will break down the bacteria and, at the same time, remove bacteria because you’re irrigating and flushing out the area,” she adds.
Recently LISTERINE® conducted two randomized, controlled clinical trials that followed over 350 people with various stages of gingivitis for 12 weeks. Results showed that those who added LISTERINE® mouthwash to their oral care regimen for the full period had a significant reduction in gingivitis and plaque between the teeth. The study also found that LISTERINE® Cool Mint Antiseptic Mouthwash destroyed five times more plaque above the gum line than flossing.*
“By adding LISTERINE® to your oral routine, along with regular check-ups to your dentist, you can aid in the prevention of issues like gum disease,” Dr. Ellis says.
As for her own regimen, Scolaro starts the day brushing with an electric toothbrush. “The vibrations are good for your gum tissue and bring blood flow,” she says. Then she flosses, and swishes with LISTERINE® Antiseptic Mouthwash for 30 seconds.
Scolaro also keeps a bottle of travel-size LISTERINE® on-hand for on-the-go moments. “My mouth feels pretty clean after swishing,” Scolaro says. “I like the freshness in my mouth and my breath is definitely good, too.”
Her evening routine consists of brushing with her electric toothbrush and flossing once again. She makes sure to use LISTERINE® Antiseptic Mouthwash for 30 seconds to hit that twice-daily recommendation for maximum effectiveness. “At any point in your day, if you can get yourself swishing for 30 seconds, you’re decreasing that bacterial load in the mouth,” she says. “That will help with inflammation going on in the mouth.”
Feeling inspired? Take care of your mouth by rinsing with Listerine Cool Mint Antiseptic mouthwash twice daily to prevent plaque buildup, gingivitis, and bleeding.
*Flossing by a dental hygienist. Sustained plaque reduction after a dental cleaning.
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