A new patient presented to the office the other day with the most beautiful smile. His teeth where glistening white, perfectly straight, and his smile was infectious. Many people would be envious of such a Hollywood smile. However, when asked in conversation about his routine, he mentioned that often times when brushing or flossing his gums would bleed excessively at times. Hmmm, seems strange for such a “healthy smile,” right? Wrong! Something was going on below the surface.
The health of your gums plays a critical role in overall oral health. Straight, white teeth are not always an indicator of this. Gum disease today is less common than in the past, but still can affect an average of at least 45% of American adults by the time the reach age 64.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when plaque from food, saliva and minerals build up under and/or along the gum line. Plaque is a sticky, film like build up that contains large amounts of bacteria. The bleeding that most patients report is due to varying degrees of infection that can initially hurt the gums but if left untreated, begin to deteriorate the bone around the teeth as well.
Pesky plaque can also cause gingivitis, which is an earlier stage of gum disease. Symptoms of gingivitis are often reported to cause gums to be:
- Or, like our patient… prone to bleeding
So how do we keep pesky plaque and gingivitis away? Here are some top tips to keep your gums healthy and happy.
Flossing at least once a day can greatly help in the removal of plaque and left behind food particles that can be left behind by your toothbrush. Especially when we are zipping around in the morning to head to work or drop off the kids, we can often rush our brush! In the morning, at night, at your desk. Break out the floss and check it off the list! A lot of patients don’t floss because “It makes their gums bleed”. Quite the contrary – gums bleed because people don’t floss enough and the undisturbed plaque causes inflammation and bleeding.
Get Regular Dental Cleanings
The dentists and hygienists at Grady Dental Care can detect early signs and symptoms of gum disease. By maintaining regular cleaning appointments, they can help provide preventative measures to halt gum disease in its tracks. Professional cleanings are the only way to remove tarter and can provide the fine detailing that even the best brusher and flosser cannot reach.
As we are well aware of, gum disease can be the least of your worries if you are a long-time smoker. However, smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease. Smoking lowers one immune system, it also restricts blood flow to areas of the body, making it more difficult for your body to fight infection. Additionally, smoking can also make it more difficult for your gums to heal once they have been damaged for a long period of time. So, if you can, kick the habit.
Brush Twice a Day – A Classic
Brushing your teeth after every meal has been suggested for a century and the recommendation is as true today as it was back in the day. Brushing helps remove food and plaque trapped between the fine crevasses of your teeth and gums. Often forgotten, give your tongue a scrub too. Your tongue is often covered in bacteria that can cause halitosis.
Grab yourself a soft bristle tooth brush next time you are at the pharmacy or the grocery store. Softer bristles are more comfortable in your mouth and have more than enough strength the clean your teeth. Many patients scrub their teeth too hard thinking in will make their mouth cleaner or their teeth whiter. The end result of brushing to aggressively or with too firm a toothbrush is recession of the gums which will inevitably lead to other issues.
Use a Reputable Toothpaste with Fluoride
Fluoride sometimes gets a bad reputation but is perfectly safe and good for your smile. Many toothpaste brands claim to reduce gingivitis, freshen your breath, whiten your teeth, detoxify your gums and change the world. Don’t be fooled by the marketing. Find a brand that has the ADA seal of approval and a flavor/color that suits your tastes.
Use a Gentle Mouthwash
Much like toothpastes, there are dozens of different mouthwashes to choose from. Many contain a high alcohol content that is not palatable or can burn the inside of your cheeks or tongue. Regardless of the brand, it is a good idea to use an antiseptic mouthwash with or without alcohol to help reduce the overall plaque accumulation in your mouth. This of course is not a substitute for proper brushing but it certainly helps.
Keeping your mouth happy and healthy is a daily commitment. However, your body will thank you for it in the future. Following these few helpful tips can make your next dental appointment more enjoyable as the cleaning will be easier and you will not have to deal with certain measures to bring your mouth back to proper health! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask any of our clinical providers at Grady Dental Care as we are always happy to help.