You've probably heard dentists mention the phrase "gum disease" more than once. In particular, you've probably heard them educate you on how to prevent it. Even if a dentist hasn't mentioned it, if you watch television, you've seen commercials about mouthwash and toothpaste that help prevent it. You may be wondering what all the fuss about preventing this oral condition is.

Also known as periodontal disease, this condition leads to the gums becoming inflamed and red. The bacteria from periodontal disease cause air pockets to form between the teeth and the gums. These air pockets separate the gums from the teeth.

Your dentist can further educate you on steps to both prevent and treat the disease.

1. Brush your teeth twice daily

You should brush your teeth at least twice daily. Make sure you use proper techniques, such as holding the brush at a 45-degree angle. If you're unsure of the proper way to brush, your dentist or hygienist can help you.

2. Floss daily

In addition to brushing, you should floss daily as well. Flossing removes the plaque and food residue that hides in between teeth that brushing can't reach. The plaque and bacteria left in between the teeth can lead to gum disease.

3. Have dental appliances cleaned

Make sure your dental appliances, such as dentures and braces, are clean. When dental appliances are left uncared for, the bacteria that causes periodontal disease may form. Bridges and fillings also need to be maintained by your dentist to prevent this particular oral health condition.

4. Have misaligned teeth repaired

If you have misaligned teeth, you should have them fixed; they increase your risk of developing periodontal disease.

5. See your dentist regularly

You should see your dentist at least once a year for an examination and cleaning. A professional cleaning removes the plaque buildup that leads to inflammation of the gums. If you already have periodontal disease, you may need more frequent cleanings to rid your mouth of the disease and prevent it from coming back.

6. Control your diabetes

Diabetes may contribute to periodontal disease. Make sure you control your blood glucose levels through diet, exercise and medication. Talk to your dentist about additional steps you can take to prevent oral health conditions related to your diabetes.

7. Stop smoking

If you smoke, you need to quit in order to reduce your chances of developing this condition. Once you have periodontal disease, your dentist will recommend you quit smoking because you're hindering the treatment process.

8. Rinsing your mouth

Use a mixture of warm water and baking soda to rinse out your mouth. Baking soda helps to reduce swelling that is caused by periodontal disease.

9. Eat healthy

Sugar and other unhealthy foods cause plague and tartar buildup, both of which lead to this particular oral health condition. Additionally, consuming a well-balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals is essential to good oral health.

10. Oral health during pregnancy

Be sure to monitor your oral health carefully during pregnancy. Gingivitis is oftentimes synonymous with pregnancy hormones.

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, men are more likely to develop periodontal disease than women.
  • The National Institutes of Health state that 5.08 percent of Americans, ages 20 to 64, have moderate to severe periodontal disease.