Bleeding Gums: What You Should Know
“Why do my gums bleed, even after a teeth cleaning?” That’s what one patient recently asked me during a routine exam following a visit with our dental hygienist. This woman pointed out how diligent she was about her daily oral health care. “I brush and floss every day,” she said. I never skip cleanings and exams, so why do I see bleeding gums when I look in her mirror?
She’s not alone. Many patients are surprised to learn they have residual calculus and aggressive bacteria pockets lingering in the gums following a teeth cleaning--- despite brushing and flossing every day. Since inflamed gums can signal gum disease, there are several factors I take into account for the root causes of diseased gums even if your dental hygiene habits are good. If your gums bleed are still bleeding 48 hours after a cleaning, seek help from a periodontist. Gum disease is a progressive condition, so it’s important to catch it early and treat it accordingly to avoid gum recession which can lead to tooth and bone loss.
In the patient’s case above, my first form of therapy would be to clean out any remaining bacteria from the visit with the hygienist. After I’ve ruled out gum disease--- specifically any deeper bacterial issues surrounding the gums from a thorough mouth exam, then I’m like a mouth detective. I sleuth my way through any other potential causes for gingival inflammation. These can include genetic factors, hormonal changes, systemic diseases like diabetes or teeth grinding (usually during the night as a person sleeps), or nicotine usage whether it’s from cigarettes, tobacco chewing, or vaping.
Finally, convinced that none of these items are promoting the gums to bleed --- it comes down to basics: the brushing and flossing is not satisfactory for preventing the potentially early onset of periodontal disease. The good news is that in most cases this is reversible by employing the proper techniques for less accumulation of plaque after regular dental cleanings. Many adults live under the false perception that they brush and floss properly, and I have to burst their bubble that they’ve been doing it all wrong.
Let’s go over what you need to do to prevent plaque build-up which can lead to cavities and ultimately periodontal disease.
- Brushing: Your toothbrush bristles should be soft. I recommend charcoal toothbrushes. In addition to reducing plaque, build up & odor-causing bacteria,charcoal is known to absorb discolorations in your tooth enamel Check the angle you are holding the brush from your gums and teeth. It should be 45 degrees---right at the line where your teeth meet the gums. Brushing teeth alone or the gums by themselves is not the answer. It’s a simultaneous cleaning of teeth and gums. You don’t need to harshly force the brush through your mouth like a jackhammer! Gentle, short strokes as you move the teeth back and forth is all that is needed. Don’t forget your tongue in the process. Brush at least twice daily,
Flossing: Let’s face It, people hate to floss! And many people who floss with string do a lousy job of it. I actually see physical cuts on the gums of patients who floss incorrectly, (especially those patients who have crammed in last minute flossing a few days before a cleaning, to try to catch for days--- or maybe weeks of ignoring this important daily habit) People don’t realize that string floss can actually cut into your gums and be very damaging. What I prefer is a water irrigation flosser. It would be great if you could do this twice a day, but you must floss at least once a day.
I designed what I consider to be the best alternative to string floss.
My Orasana® WaterJet is gentle on your gums & teeth because it uses water pressure to clean around teeth and gums. The water pressure cleans under the gums, while stimulating circulation and tissue tone. There are three power levels, three tips, an easy to fill water reservoir, and a travel case. It clean 360º around the teeth, which is by far superior to traditional flossing methods. It’s cordless and It’s so safe and lightweight that children 8-years and older can use. Click here to watch a video on how easy it is to use.
PROBIOTICS: Probiotics for oral health is catching up with the increasing consumer demand for all other types of probiotics. Oral probiotics help with preventing cavities in children and adults, help with inflammation in the gums, strengthening of the bones in the mouth, and many other benefits that support the entire body.
I love getting emails from my patients about how Orasana products have been game changers in helping with their oral health issues. My patient Zahra B recently wrote, "I really love the Orasana WaterJet! My gums are sensitive and it has helped me clean around my teeth without making my gums bleed…”
Keeping your gums healthy really only involves the three simple steps that I explored with you here: Brush, water floss at least twice a day, and take probiotics. Just like your skin care: where you wash your face, apply toner and moisturizer-- it’s really just that easy of a habit to take care of your mouth.
And, to make it even easier to incorporate these steps I recently developed my Healthy Gums Program. It comes with a charcoal toothbrush, Waterjet, carrying case, and probiotics I outlined above. In addition, this complete program not only supports healthy gums and heart, but includes a Coenzyme Q10 supplement to increase support of the heart muscle as well as in the gums. Gingiva, heart and skeletal muscles are particularly dependent on CoQ10, as are cells and tissues that are involved in immune function. There’s also an EFA blend and a botanical formula with antimicrobial properties which aid in the elimination of unwanted bacteria in people suffering from gum disease. This program is perfect for those with gum inflammation, bleeding or to be taken to support gum disease therapies you might currently be receiving.
It might sound trite-but it’s true: If you look after your gums and teeth they will look after you!