Today’s topic is not pretty, but unless you have $8,000 earmarked for dental care, it could prevent a lot of pain—both dental and financial.

Periodontal disease is an infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bones that hold the teeth in the jaw bone and the bone itself.

Bacteria get caught between the teeth and also under the gum, forming a sticky substance called “plaque,” that hardens to form tartar.

This leads to infection known as gingivitis. As it spreads deeper into the bone it begins to decay and pus forms, which causes swelling, redness and bleeding. If not treated, the teeth will become loose and fall out.

Do I have your attention? Great because there are relatively inexpensive measures you can take to prevent this ugly situation and all of the very expensive treatments required to treat and (hopefully) reverse.

If you remove the soft plaque from the gum margin around the teeth you will toughen the gum and prevent the disease. Here’s how to do that:

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Rinse first

Yes, before you brush. You need to do this with a good dental rinse designed for pre-rinsing. Plax, is the perfect choice because it is designed to be used before brushing to help loosen and remove more plaque than brushing alone.

Floss

Floss between the teeth and under the gums. This is the only way to effectively remove plaque from between the teeth. If you have difficulty flossing, purchase a floss handle.

Water Floss

Or use a water flosser. If you hate to floss for any reason at all, you really need to think about investing in a Waterpik device. It is cool, fun to use and and costs a fraction of a single professional cleaning. 

RELATED: Tell Your Flossing Excuses Good-Bye Forever

Power Brush

Use a power brush such as a Oral-B Professional or Phillips Sonicare to effectively scrub and vibrate the soft plaque away. These devices are so amazing, it’s almost like getting a professional cleaning every time you brush. A power brush is well-worth the investment.  

Massage

Use a rubber tip stimulator to massage the gum between the teeth. This toughens the gum and makes it more impervious to bacterial infection. Follow up by using a quality tongue cleaner for extra fresh breath. 

Mouthwash

Finish up your daily routine with a good fluoride mouthwash

Professional Cleaning

Have a good professional cleaning at least annually. You do need to keep this appointment. And get ready. If you are routinely performing the steps above, the hygienist will be doing the happy dance while reaching for the gold stars. You’ll deserve one for doing such a great job.

Cost

So what will all of this prevention cost? Dental floss is cheap. You can get yards and yards of it at any drug or grocery store for a buck or two. Pre-rinse and gum stimulators are inexpensive as well. Most rechargeable, battery-powered toothbrushes sell for $60 to $100. A Waterpik comes in under $40. A professional cleaning and exam varies across the country, but runs from $50 to $140.

READ: Put a Big Smile on Your Face with a Dental Savings Plan

If you absolutely cannot afford a powered brush the best alternative is to brush with a soft-bristle, nylon toothbrush. The bristles should be pressed between the gum and the tooth surface at a 45 degree angle just as you would use a scrub brush to clean the angle between a floor and a wall. Brush horizontally, back and forth. A systematic routine of flossing and brushing is the only way to prevent periodontal disease.

In terms of the cost of failing to prevent gum disease, allow me to scare you to death.

Gingivitis

If you have gum disease with no bone damage (called gingivitis) the cost of scaling and root planing with follow-up appointments may cost up to $1,800 or more.

Periodontitis

If there is bone damage (called periodontitis) which needs surgical intervention, the surgical fee could tack on another $4,000 to $5,000—up to $10,000 depending on the severity of the disease. If bone needs to be re-grown by various bone regenerating methods, the cost may be an additional $300 to $400 per tooth. Should you be fortunate to have all 32 of your pearly whites, well, you do the math.

Extraction

If you are unfortunate to have untreatable periodontal disease, extraction of hopelessly diseased teeth could cost $100 or more per tooth. And a really cheap, full set of removable dentures will run $8,000 and up to $18,000 for kind you will prefer to wear.

Here’s a Plan

Invest a little time and money now to prevent gum disease so you can spend your money on something else more enjoyable!

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