WHAT TO DO ABOUT BLEEDING GUMS?
Does your mouth look like this? White teeth with nice, pink gums? Well, if you’re like 80% of the population, it doesn’t. That’s right. Roughly 4 out of 5 persons have inflamed or bleeding gums.
Don’t panic. For most of us, inflamed gums reflect a mild condition called gingivitis that is irritating, but rather easily controlled. However, gingivitis can lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis that often results in devastating consequences, including bone damage and tooth loss. In fact, periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss.
WHAT CAUSES BLEEDING GUMS?
Conditions leading to gum disease range from the mild and simple to more severe.
- Buildup of plaque on teeth creates an opportunity for bacterial infection. The toxins from the bacteria, along with the antibodies produced to fight the infection, lead to inflammation and bleeding.
- Canker sores or mouth ulcers can also cause inflamed and bleeding gums. This might result from bacterial or viral infection. Persons suffering from autoimmune diseases can be especially susceptible.
- Persons undergoing treatment for cancer, including chemotherapy, often develop gum irritation and inflammation.
- Hormone changes during puberty, pregnancy, or use of certain contraceptives can increase blood flow to the gums that causes irritation.
- Other causes of inflammation can include very serious conditions such as an abscessed tooth.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT GUM DISEASE?
Prevention is the best and first action to take.
- Improve your oral hygiene care. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss carefully at least once a day to prevent plaque buildup. Use an electric toothbrush since they are much more effective.
- Rinse daily with an antiseptic mouthwash that will help to control bacteria in the mouth.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, vitamin C, and calcium. Avoid sugary drinks such as soda or fruit juices. Drink plenty of water.
- Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products.
- Try to reduce stress in your life, since stress raises the level of cortisol and increases inflammation throughout your body.
- Don’t share toothbrushes or eating utensils if you have gum disease or if you know of someone who does. These bacterial infections can be contagious.
SEE YOUR DENTIST
Above all, if your gingivitis does not go away or if it becomes more seriously irritating and painful, see your dentist.