It’s easy to think of your teeth when you consider a beautiful smile, but your gums are just as vital when it comes to flashing those pearly whites! You really can’t have a healthy smile without healthy gums. Your gums are the pillars that support your teeth in doing their job.

To care for your teeth, you need to brush and floss twice a day, preferably with an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste to protect tooth enamel. To care for your gums you need to do the same, using a soft bristled tooth brush around the gum and gum line, and flossing to remove food particles and plaque-causing bacteria.

But what if despite your best measures, you have advanced gum disease? You might have serious gum problems if you have extremely swollen and tender gums, receding gums and loose teeth, new spaces between your teeth and a bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away.

If your dentist has diagnosed advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, you may need some surgical intervention. If you are a smoker, your dentist will recommend stopping. Smoking is a factor in gum disease and can prevent it from disappearing completely.

If you need surgical intervention, you may undergo flap surgery. This is where your dentist or periodontist makes a small incision to remove the infected material as well as hardened tartar in the deep gum pockets. Your gums will then be pulled up and stitched snugly around your teeth to support them again. You may or may not require bone or tissue grafting.

Whatever the intervention, the treatment will always require meticulous at-home brushing and flossing care. Including an antibacterial mouthwash in your daily regimen will also help maintain healthy gums. And whatever you do, keep your dental cleanings so hardened plaque (also known as tartar, or calculus) can be removed before it becomes a problem to teeth and gums.

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