8 Ways to Prevent and Reverse Gum Disease

Kristine Burke, MD
April 4, 2016

I've written a couple of blogs about periodontal health, and if you've read them, by now you should have a great understanding by now about what periodontal (gum) disease is, the causes and risk factors, and how it can increase your risk for a heart attack.

So let's put all that scary news aside and put a positive spin on it: With a few simple changes and a consistent plan, you can actually prevent gum disease if you’re committed to making your health a priority.

Here are 8 ways to make it happen:

  1. Schedule a dentist appointment. Wait - you don't have a dentist? Or maybe you haven’t seen him in a few years. Well, stop what you're doing right now and get on it.

    Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are one of the best ways to identify and treat cavities and gum problems before they become full-blown periodontal disease.
  2. And pepper him/her with questions. When I ask my patients if they’ve ever been diagnosed with periodontal disease, many times they’ll say, “Oh yeah, but he told me not to worry about.” So if your doctor diagnosed you with heart disease, would he also tell you not to worry?

    Pockets around the gums that are 4mm or greater in depth are actually early signs of periodontal disease and need to be treated immediately. So if your dentist is taking a "watch and wait" approach, find another dentist who will be more aggressive with treatment.
  3. Get an oral DNA test. An oral DNA test can allow your dentist to see if you have the harmful bacteria that can cause gum disease. If you test positive, your dentist can use a variety of techniques like oral antibiotics, rinses, biofilm disruption, scaling, root planning and probiotics to eliminate the bacteria.
  4. Brush, floss, and clean in between. Brushing after every meal is ideal but at least make sure you’re brushing twice a day for at least two minutes. Floss at least once a day and get in between teeth and below the gum line. Interdental brushes are another great way to get rid of plaque in between teeth, especially if your teeth are very close together.
  5. Find out what your risk is. Chances are your dentist doesn’t have the time to find out if you have risk factors for gum disease that go above and beyond dental hygiene. Things like blood sugar and cholesterol levels, your body mass index (BMI), metabolic syndrome, and family history of oral cancers, HPV and other viruses.

    Yet your risk is one of the most important things you should talk to your primary care physician about. If he can chat with your dentist about it, even better.
  6. Quit smoking. Throw the cigarettes out, get the patch, gum, or lozenges and find support today.
  7. Eat healthy. One more reason to eat your veggies—a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower your inflammation and your risk for periodontal disease.
  8. Get screened. There are certain genetic mutations that can predispose you to gum disease and may significantly increase your risk for heart disease as well. Ask your provider about genetic testing to see if you’re at risk.

What Our Patients Say
Wouldn’t it be great if your Dr. actually listened?