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  • TinWai Ip

Help! My gums are bleeding!

Bleeding gums are usually the first sign of gum disease. The word ‘disease’ immediately triggers a flight or fight action in some patients, with the adamant denial of gum disease or, more commonly, insistence that it’s not their fault because they were born with ‘bad gums’. While there is a genetic component that may make you more prone to gum disease, you’re not cursed. With a bit of knowledge, hard work, and dedication, it is a very easily preventable condition.

There are several stages to gum disease and the earlier that we can develop good cleaning habits, the easier and faster we can get back to health and wellness. Life is about balance. Everything in our body (and in our lives) needs balance to be well. There is a specific balance of microorganisms (i.e. bacteria) that work in our bodies to keep it working.

When we eat food, food particles inevitably get stuck in the nooks and crannies between and behind teeth. This trapped food feeds the natural bacteria in the mouth, which forms plaque and, in time, tartar. Tartar – aka calculus – is like a fortress for bacteria built from plaque and minerals from your saliva. It’s where the bacteria live and constantly build their stronghold, wrapping it around your tooth and extending under the gum line. If the tartar is not removed, the balance is tipped and certain harmful bacteria can thrive causing disease and inflammation. Naturally, your gums respond by ‘backing away’ from the source of infection – tartar. (This movement of the gums is often called gum recession)

Building the healthy habit of brushing your teeth everyday, twice a day, and cleaning between your teeth with mouthwash, floss, or interdental brushes, to remove plaque prevents gum disease before it begins.

Symptoms of gum disease (gingivitis) are:

· bright red, inflamed gums

· sensitivity

· receding gums

· ‘floppy’ or ‘loose’ gums

· bleeding gums

· dark or stained tooth colour

· bad breath

As gum disease (gingivitis) progresses, it begins to affect the bones supporting your teeth as well as your gums. Eventually, if left unchecked, gingivitis leads to periodontitis. Same concept as before, but the infection is now irritating your bones.

Symptoms of advanced periodontitis are:

· sensitivity

· wobbly teeth

· loss of teeth

· tooth movement

· increased spacing between teeth

· aching discomfort in gums

· abscesses

· discomfort eating

· bleeding gums

· bad breath

· dark or stained tooth color

The treatment of periodontal disease aims to reduce the total periodontal bacterial load and suppress or eliminate certain target microorganisms from areas below the gum line. A visit to your dentist or hygienist would begin with detailed measurements of your gums, including plaque and bleeding. With these measurements, we would be able to target our deep clean remove deposits of plaque and calculus, leaving a smooth root surface.

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