(NewsUSA) - It is well known that taking care of your body, including your teeth and gums, is an important part of healthy aging. Yet, despite recognizing the importance of oral health, many individuals are not taking the essential steps to maintain their smile.

According to a 2008 study by the American Dental Association, Crest and Oral-B, "The Public Speaks Up on Oral Health Care: An ADA and Crest/Oral-B Survey," more than eight of 10 adults aged 50 to 64 believe maintaining healthy teeth and gums are essential to overall good health, yet only a third say they're taking the proper steps to do so. That's exactly the kind of statistic that has health experts worried.

"Many adults believe they're doing everything they can to protect their mouth and don't realize that red gums or minor bleeding during brushing or flossing can be a sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is caused by plaque bacteria at the gum line that can cause gums to swell. If left untreated, it can progress to a more serious form of gum disease, known as periodontitis, an infection that can be a major cause of tooth loss in adults," says Ann Benson, RDH, Mobile Dentistry of Arizona. "Some research suggests there may be a link between periodontitis and other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

Now that you know more about gingivitis, here are some tips to help you identify the symptoms and keep your timeless smile.

* Know the signs. If your gums are swollen or bleed easily while brushing or flossing, you could be among the 50 percent of American adults estimated to have gingivitis.

* Give your mouth the attention it deserves. Help prevent gingivitis by brushing and flossing daily. When you brush, make sure it is for at least two minutes, including 30 seconds brushing each section of your mouth (upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left), both morning and night.

* Create a routine. A regular oral care routine using products that protect against plaque and gingivitis is essential.

* Eat wisely. Avoiding sugars and starches applies to adults and children.

* Visit your dentist. Schedule dental appointments every six months for a check-up and cleaning.