You are not alone - according to the most recent study of adult’s teeth just over 54% suffered with bleeding gums - but what does this mean?
Bleeding gums can be separated into 2 categories- gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums around teeth - the most obvious sign you might notice is bleeding when you brush your teeth.
Periodontitis is a more serious condition where as well as inflamed and bleeding gums you are losing some of the bone around your teeth.
How are they related?
Gingivitis can develop into periodontitis if left untreated.
Where periodontitis is left untreated for a long period of time this can result in bone loss and even lose teeth. Trivia: This is the source of the phrase ‘long in the tooth’!
Most of us have seen blood in saliva after brushing teeth - in this instance the best thing to do is book yourself in for a check-up so that your gums can be assessed and advised on how to proceed.
Periodontitis can be a traumatic experience but it's important to remember that you are not alone - and can be treated:
So what can you do?
If you suffer from gingivitis the most important thing to do is to work on improving your brushing to get right down to your gums as well as endeavouring to get between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes daily (ask your dentist or at reception for more on these). You will almost definitely have some bleeding initially but if you stick to a good oral hygiene regime you should find the bleeding beginning to resolve after a few weeks. Your dentist may also advise you to see the hygienist to remove any hard deposits from your teeth which you won’t be able to clean away yourself and may be irritating your gums.
Where your dentists informs you that periodontitis is visible, the most important thing is to improve your cleaning as soon as possible but you may require more extensive further treatment to protect your gums. If it is still in its early stages you will likely be seen by the hygienist to clean under the gum line where you cannot get down to and to disrupt the bacteria which is causing the condition. In more advanced cases or cases where the condition of your gums is continuing to deteriorate you may be advised to see a periodontist for further care. A periodontist is a dentist who specialises in treatments for the gums and soft tissues of the mouth.
Once your gums have become stable and healthy it is still important to keep everything clean and seek regular check-ups to ensure that your gums do not relapse.
There are a number of factors that can make one more susceptible to gum problems but can for the most part be managed:
1) Smoking- this is one of the biggest factors in periodontitis and can cause problems even in patients with good cleaning- the best thing you can do for your gums if you are a smoker is to kick the habit as soon as possible.
2) Diabetes- Patients who suffer from diabetes are at greater risk of gum problems but this can risk can be limited by managing your diabetes and avoiding any significant fluctuations in your blood sugar levels
3) Genetic- This one is harder to control but if your parents suffer with gum issues you are at a high risk of also having gum problems so should be extra vigilant with your cleaning and avoiding any other risk factors
4) Pregnancy- Some patients finds that while they are pregnant they suffer from bleeding gums however this is usually a short term exaggerated response which resolves after you have had your baby but if you have any concerns or would like advice you can book a check-up with your dentist
With all gum problems the easiest thing is to avoid any problems by having excellent cleaning as it is always easier to prevent the problems than treat them when they have become established so work on the cleaning and forgive your dentist for their nagging - they have your best intentions in mind!