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Even if you’re a die-hard daily flosser (which, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t even close to being), chances are, you see an occasional drop or two of blood post string-session. No big deal, right? Not so fast.
“Bleeding gums are never normal, not even when you have your teeth professionally cleaned. Imagine your scalp bleeding when you brush your hair. In other words, if your gums are bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth, you have periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease.
What exactly is gum disease? Simply put, it’s a contagious bacterial infection that can wreak havoc on your health. In your mouth, it can destroy your gums, erode your jawbone, and lead to tooth loss (gum disease is actually the number one reason teeth fall out).
The picture’s not any better when it comes to the rest of the body. Here’s what happens: There are two fronts to bleeding gums. The plaque—which is a biofilm of bacteria and its waste products—first create the irritation to the gum tissue. Then there’s the body’s reaction to that wounding, the inflammatory response. Put those two factors together and you’ve got inflamed, bleeding gums. The longer you have inflammation, the more at risk you are for all kinds of systemic illnesses, everything from allergies to cancer.
And gum disease is common. Really common. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, up to 80% of the adult population has some level of periodontal disease, while only about 10% are aware of it, as telltale signs of the disease—bleeding gums, for one—don’t typically show up until the middle-to-late stages.
The good news? By changing certain habits today, you can slash your risk for gum disease or stop it in its tracks. Here are nine reasons your gums are bleeding—and what to do about it.
1. Your oral hygiene’s subpar
Inadequate oral hygiene, which can be defined as not doing brush and floss daily, results in visible plaque on teeth and red swollen gums. And it doesn’t take long to happen: Research shows that healthy gums can become diseased gums within 24 to 36 hours of not brushing and caring for oral tissues properly.
Your best bet? Taking care of your teeth. A commitment to regular professional cleanings as well as home care is essential. These tools can help make your job easier:
An electric toothbrush Automatic brushers massage the gums to stimulate blood flow, bring nutrients to the tissue, and release toxins.
Opt for anti-bacterial mouth rinse and toothpaste to cut down on the bacteria in your mouth.
Consider a water pick for flossing, or be vigilant about flossing daily the old-school way (you want to reach the spaces between your teeth, where the disease really takes hold).
Oral probiotic mints, which are dissolved in the mouth, are also a helpful means to prevent tooth decay and whiten teeth along the way.
2. Your diet’s in the dumps
Picking processed over produce isn’t just a bad idea for your waistline, but your teeth don’t appreciate it either. A diet with at least six to eight fist-sized servings of fruits and vegetables, along with nutritional supplements of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium, and anti-inflammatories such as fish oil, are all critical building blocks of oral health. Eating well boosts the integrity of the entire immune system and nourishes the oral soft tissues, which are the most vulnerable in the body.
3. You haven’t kicked the butts
Consider this reason number 10,871 to stop smoking: Smokers are at a much higher risk for gum disease due to the many toxins in cigarettes, which create inflammation and decrease the body’s immune response.
Chronic smoking also leads to fibrous and enlarged gums, which aren’t being properly nourished. And that’s not good. Once the gums show signs of bleeding, the dangerous bacteria that live between the tooth and the gumline are able to slip through the ulcerated gums and move directly into the bloodstream—this can wreak havoc on every organ in the body, especially the heart and blood vessels. Bleeding gums allow the dangerous periodontal bacteria to invade the bloodstream and set up inflammation and disease in other parts of the body.
4. You’re stressed
Your constant state of agitation and anxiety hinders the immune system’s ability to ward off gum disease. Stress causes inflammation in the blood vessels, which breaks down the soft tissue in the mouth, inhibiting its ability to heal.
5. You have a family history
Those who have the genetic marker for periodontal disease (35% of the population is born with a higher tendency to get periodontal disease) may have to work harder than others to stay well. Not sure if you have a family history? DNA testing now offers the opportunity for dentists to narrow down the bacterial strains causing an individual’s gum disease. Knowing which of 12 possible strains are present helps professionals expedite targeted management and treatment. Ask your dentist about getting a DNA test and learn more at the OralDNA Labs website.
If you do have gum disease, your fate isn’t sealed. While tooth extraction or periodontal surgery used to be the answer for dealing with gum disease, non-surgical options, such as in-office laser treatments, are the more common routes today. The cost of laser treatments is much less than traditional surgery, and typically, no anesthesia or post-operative recovery time is needed.
6. You’ve got an unbalanced bite
If you have teeth that aren’t quite lined up, crooked and crowded chompers, as well as grinding and clenching habits, you may have what’s called “bite disease.” Basically, destructive forces are being applied to the teeth and the supporting gum tissue and bone. When you hit too hard in one area, it causes the gum to recede and the bone to begin deteriorating, adding up to a prime spot for gum disease to come on in.
7. Your meds are meddling
Some medications interfere with the blood flow to tissues or hamper saliva flow, leading to dry mouth and less protection to the gums. Enlargement or thickening of gum tissue and dry mouth (possible side effects of numerous medications) cause gum tissues to be more reactive to the presence of plaque, increasing periodontal disease progression. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your meds could affect your gums or cause dry mouth.
8. You’ve been kissing and sharing
Remember the whole “contagious” part? Well, that was no joke. Gum disease can be transferred from one person to another via saliva, which means sharing utensils, drinking from the same cup, and yep, kissing, can open you up to gum disease. This is one area where sharing, apparently, is not caring. Speaking of which, “Never share a toothbrush!”
9. You’re expecting
Your wacky hormones don’t just make you cry at inopportune moments, it can open you up to gum disease, too. In fact, about half of all pregnant women will have pregnancy gingivitis by their second trimester. Practicing good oral hygiene can help you beat the odds. If you do have gum disease, you’ll need professional care to keep it in check and reduce your risk of complications like preeclampsia and preterm birth.
Contact Family Care Dental Clinic for your consultation today!
We at Family Care Dental Clinic offer our clients a wide range of comprehensive dental services for the whole family. Our dentists can help everyone in your family understand the importance of proper oral hygiene over time and the positive effects it has on your health. At Family Care Dental Clinic, we treat our clients to a soothing environment where they can receive quality dental care no matter what their needs are. Call (604) 987-3545 or write us at email@example.com to schedule an appointment with a member of our excellent team!