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New Castle Dental Associates
92 Reads Way, Suite 200, New Castle, DE 19720

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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Why You Should Care About Gum Health

How often do you think about the health of your gums? Are they pink and healthy? Maintaining great oral health involves taking care of both your teeth and gums. If you don’t take care of your gums, you may increase your risk for developing gum disease. One of the most dangerous aspects of gum disease is that the initial stages of the disease are usually painless, and you might not even know that you have gum disease until serious damage to your gum tissue and surrounding bones has occurred. At this point, tooth loss may occur. The leading cause of tooth loss in adults is caused by gum disease.

Understanding Gum Disease and Periodontitis

Periodontal disease is the term used to describe the group of conditions that affect the soft tissues and bones that support your teeth. The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which causes your gums to appear puffy and bright red as a result of inflammation. Inflammation occurs as the toxins from plaque and tartar spread beneath the gum line. If you have gingivitis, following a strict brushing and flossing regimen, in addition to seeing your dentist regularly, can successfully reverse the condition.

Periodontitis is the more serious type of periodontal disease, and it causes your gum tissue to pull away from your teeth. This creates spaces called pockets, and these spaces can trap bacteria, which can destroy gum tissue and supporting bone. Once this occurs, your teeth may loosen and can eventually fall out if you don’t receive aggressive treatment. Unlike gingivitis, the damage caused by periodontitis can only be managed and can’t be reversed.

Gum Disease Causes and Risk Factors

Many people develop gum disease as a result of poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss every day and see your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and exams, plaque and tartar will accumulate on your teeth and along the gum line. Plaque is a nearly colorless, sticky film of bacteria, and it can harden into tartar if not removed daily. Tartar is typically brown or yellow in color and develops above the gum line. Tartar and plaque damage gum tissue, causing irritation and inflammation. If you have tartar, you might start noticing the early signs of gingivitis, such as swollen gums that bleed easily.

A variety of lifestyle and other risk factors can also contribute to the development of periodontal disease, including:

  • Tobacco use: Smoking and using other tobacco products are associated with an increased risk of periodontal disease.
    Hormonal changes: The increase in hormones that occur during puberty, menopause, and pregnancy can make gum tissue more sensitive. This can lead to inflammation and the bleeding gums that commonly occur during gingivitis.
    Genetics: Having a family member who has gingivitis can be a contributing factor to developing gum disease.
    Poor oral care: Brushing and flossing your teeth every day removes harmful plaque before it can harden into tartar. If plaque and tartar aren’t removed, your gum tissue becomes affected by the toxins found in bacteria, leading to gum disease.
    Medications: Some prescription medications, such as heart medications, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants, can reduce the flow of saliva and increase your risk of gum disease. Saliva helps protect you from gum disease by washing away plaque and bacteria.
    Stress: Research has shown an association between high-stress levels and an impaired immune system, which can make it difficult to ward off infection.
    Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, and AIDS, can increase your risk of gum disease.

Gum Disease Signs and Symptoms

Healthy gums are usually light pink in color, firm to the touch, and fit tightly around your teeth. If your gums appear red, it could be a sign of inflammation caused by gum disease. Unhealthy gums also appear swollen and feel soft due to the irritation caused by plaque buildup at the gum line. In addition to red, swollen, tender gums, here are some other signs and symptoms of gum disease:

  • Bleeding gums after brushing and flossing
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Constant bad taste in your mouth
  • A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite down
  • Loose or teeth separating from the gums
  • A change in the fit of your partial dentures or other tooth replacement device

A professional cleaning in our office and following a diligent oral care routine at home is usually all that’s needed to reverse the early stages of gum disease. Call us today to make your appointment.

How Can I Keep My Gums Healthy and Prevent Gum Disease?

There is good news when it comes to your risk of developing periodontal disease. Following these tips will help you protect the health of your teeth and gums, reducing your chances of suffering from gum disease.

Establish a Brushing and Flossing Routine

Maintaining a twice-daily routine of brushing your teeth and flossing daily can help keep plaque and tartar from developing and causing problems. Choose a toothbrush that allows you to reach all areas of your mouth, and make sure to brush for at least two minutes each time.

Schedule Regular Dental Visits

No matter how well you brush and floss at home, it’s still important to schedule a professional cleaning and dental exam twice a year. Harmful plaque and tartar deposits are removed during a cleaning, and your dentist will also check your teeth and gums for signs of gum disease during your appointment.

Use Mouthwash

Mouthwash can reach all the places in your mouth and between your teeth that you might have missed while brushing or flossing.

Avoid Starch and Sugar

Sugary and starchy foods aids in the production of acid, which destroys tooth enamel, and promotes plaque development. Eating a nutritious diet filled with minerals and vitamins benefits your oral health and boosts your immunity.

Remember, it’s much easier to spend five minutes a day caring for your teeth and gums than it is to spend countless hours at the dentist’s office fixing infected gums. Be sure to follow the tips above to keep your smile bright and your gums healthy.

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New Castle Dental Associates

92 Reads Way, Suite 200, New Castle, DE 19720

(302) 352-2321