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What can be done by patients to look after their gums at home? Brushing and flossing.

Gums recede and become inflamed or infected due to a buildup of bacteria. “All particles such as food and drink that enter the mouth can potentially lead to inflammation and decay if they are not removed properly,” says Hogan, who also is an assistant professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. “Particles often are trapped between the teeth and gum, that’s why we use toothbrushes to sweep out the buildup.”

Gum disease and tooth decay account for about 90 percent of tooth loss, according to the American Dental Association. “The good news is that gum disease is largely preventable through regular brushing, flossing and dental cleanings,” says Hogan. “The bad news is that not many people like flossing their teeth and many brush improperly.”

Manipulating strands of dental floss may be awkward for many. “Individual picks with single use dental floss are easy to maneuver inside the mouth and are inexpensive,” says Hogan. “Many toothbrushes have a rubber pick at the end. A swish of mouthwash also is good to remove extra debris trapped in teeth.”

(But) Both do not replace brushing and flossing.

Plaque buildups can only be removed by friction (because of it?s sticky nature). Brushing is good to remove gross plaque buildups especially on the face of the tooth. However, even the thinnest of bristles on the brush will not be able to get in-between teeth. That is where flossing comes into play – it aids in removing plaque buildup on the necks of the teeth and below the gumline.

And that is the basis for recommending BRUSHING and FLOSSING.