How do I prevent gum disease?

Learn the best ways to prevent gum disease, or - if you have already experienced gum disease - how to minimise and manage it long term.

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The good and bad news about preventing gum disease

Regular brushing and flossing and professional cleans at your dentist go a long way to helping prevent gum disease.

But unfortunately, some of us are more genetically susceptible than others to developing gingivitis or periodontitis. And sometimes, other illnesses and medications may mean that no matter how well we take care of ourselves at home, it’s not enough to prevent gum disease.  

Read on to learn how to give yourself the best chance against gum disease. If you don’t have it, find out how to prevent it. Or if it is an ongoing issue for you, get tips on how to manage it and maintain a healthy mouth.

How do you prevent gum disease?

Simply put, you can prevent gum disease by getting your teeth clean and keeping them clean. But in practice, this isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Preventing gum disease is relatively simple if you’ve never had it and are not susceptible to it for any of the reasons covered in this article about causes and risks. You just need to maintain good oral hygiene - which means regular brushing and flossing, and six-monthly check-up and clean visits to your dentist. 

Even if you develop the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis, it’s possible to reverse the effects and effectively ‘cure’ the disease. Your dentist or periodontist will thoroughly clean your teeth and gums, and help you monitor the situation until you have no more signs of gum disease. 

The most important thing that your periodontist, hygienist or dentist can do for you is show you how to clean your teeth well. Believe it or not, it isn’t very easy to clean your teeth perfectly, which is why most people have some signs of gum disease.

There are lots of different methods and tools for cleaning teeth properly, and most people need a combination of things. What works best for someone else may not always be the best for you. Your dental practitioner is the only person who can accurately assess whether you’re cleaning effectively. 

And - we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again - if you notice any bleeding while brushing or flossing your teeth, make an appointment to see your dentist or periodontist right away. If you’ve had gum disease in the past, or are susceptible to it, you need to be extra careful.

Flossing and interdental brushes help remove plaque in between your teeth and close to your gum line, where your toothbrush doesn’t reach. Your dentist or periodontist can tell you whether interdental brushes or floss would work best for you.

And beware of water flossers and mouth-rinse; they can give you a false sense of security and are not recommended. 

Once plaque becomes tartar, a professional clean is the only way to remove it. If you are susceptible to gum disease, you should have one every six months.

Gum disease and your overall health

You can also give yourself a better chance of preventing gum disease or managing it by keeping healthy. The following health and wellbeing habits will help you prevent gum disease and also manage it if you already have it.

  1. Stop smoking

    The shocking fact is that smokers are SEVEN TIMES more likely to get gum disease than non-smokers. Nicotine affects the blood vessels in your mouth, reducing their resilience and their ability to heal. This means that - as a smoker - if you get gum disease, it can be much harder to cure or maintain than if you quit.
  1. Reduce stress

    Stress can affect your body's immune system and make it hard to fight off possible infection. Stress changes throughout your life and we often see people who normally maintain excellent gum health slip during periods of high stress.

Gum disease and diabetes

If you have diabetes, it’s probably not the first time you’ve heard about the relationship between gum disease and diabetes.

Gum disease poses two problems for people with diabetes. The first is that having diabetes makes you more likely to develop gum disease. And the second is that gum disease can make your diabetes worse. 

Diabetes is a risk factor for gum disease because it reduces your body’s ability to fight bacteria. It lowers your resistance to infection, and it slows healing.

And gum disease makes it harder to control your diabetes because it is harder to control the blood sugar levels.

So if you do suffer from diabetes, it’s even more important to keep up with your six-monthly check-up and clean visits to the dentist or periodontist. Check your mouth regularly for any signs of gum disease. And if you notice something unusual, make an appointment with your dentist or periodontist immediately.


The very best way to avoid and prevent gum disease is to keep your teeth clean, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. 

If you suspect you have gum disease because you’ve noticed some symptoms, book in and see your dentist or periodontist without delay. 

It’s also important to understand that once gum disease reaches the periodontal disease stage, it may not be reversible. But the good news is that it’s definitely manageable, and working with your periodontist on an ongoing plan will give you a chance to slow the disease and stop further damage to your teeth, gums and bone in the long run.

Next article

What are the causes and risks for gum disease?