HEALTHY MOUTH TIPS
Everything You Need to Know About Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums are a symptom of a bacterial infection in the gums. In its earliest stage, the infection is called gingivitis and affects only the soft tissue around the teeth.
If left untreated, gingivitis will develop into full-blown periodontal disease, in which not only the gums, but also the periodontal ligament that attaches teeth to bone, as well as the alveolar bone itself, which provides the support that teeth are attached to, become affected and damaged by the infection over time.
Periodontal disease may spread further into the jawbone, causing serious damage to teeth, gums, ligaments, and bone, impeding the patient’s ability to eat and chew properly, and in some cases, impeding the ability to speak properly.
Periodontal Disease Starts with Dental Plaque
Dental plaque is a sticky whitish substance that accumulates on tooth surfaces after eating. Without proper oral hygiene and regular dental checkup and cleanings, harmful bacteria may build up over time on dental plaque and cause periodontal disease.
As plaque begins to accumulate, the gums become more inflamed and delicate. If plaque is not properly removed, the harmful bacteria will continue to multiply, worsening the infection. At this stage, the gum tissue begins to recede and detach from the tooth, creating a “pocket” that surrounds the tooth. These pockets then encourage more plaque and bacteria to accumulate, since it is harder to remove plaque from these pockets below the gum line.
If untreated, periodontal disease may spread to the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone, causing severe damage to these structures. As the condition advances, the gums may become painful, eating and chewing may become difficult, and the teeth may become loose and start falling out.
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease, if caught in time, is easily treatable with antibiotics and regular professional cleanings. In more advanced cases, a procedure called dental planning and root scaling may be required to remove the plaque that has built up below the gum line. If the gum or bone tissue has been lost, it may be necessary to perform a gum graft or bone graft to replace tissue that has been lost to the disease.
Periodontal Disease is Preventable
Fortunately, it is not hard to identify, treat, or prevent periodontal disease. Here are five things that you can do to diminish your likelihood of developing periodontal disease:
- Avoid sweet, sticky foods such as hard candy. These foods are hard to remove from the tooth surface, and may cause harmful buildup of dangerous plaque and bacteria.
- Brush properly after every meal. Proper brushing after each meal removes the plaque that accumulates on the surface of your teeth and prevents plaque and bacteria from building up in the mouth. If in some instances it is impossible to brush after a meal, at least rinse your mouth out to prevent food from sticking to your teeth.
- Floss properly at least twice daily. Flossing properly helps to remove plaque from around the tooth and helps dislodge food particles from the gum line to prevent buildup of plaque in that area.
- Regular dental checkups are also essential to the prevention of periodontal disease. You must have a dental exam at least once yearly in order to make sure that nothing is going on in areas that you cannot see.
- Regular professional cleanings are a must. It is recommended that you get regular cleanings about once every six months, and even more often if you have symptoms of periodontal disease, such as bleeding gums. Regular cleanings done by your dentist or dental hygienist will help to keep plaque and bacteria in check, especially in areas below the gum line that are harder to reach with a toothbrush or dental floss.
Don’t take risks when it comes to periodontal disease! If your gums are bleeding and you live in the area of Torrence, Gardena, or surrounding areas in California, contact a qualified dentists such as Dr. Steve Kim at Steve S. Kim, DDS to get a proper dental checkup and a professional cleaning. Healthy gums begin with regular dental checkups!