Bleeding gums? Fear not! There is a reasonable explanation

A very common complaint, most of us dentists face in our clinical practice is of bleeding gums! Many patients present with a chief complaint of their gums bleeding while brushing their teeth, while chewing on something slightly hard or while waking up from sleep (also manifested as metallic taste in their mouth). This seemingly appalling and frightening experience is infact a very trivial concern that can be resolved even more easily.

The accumulation of a thin colourless and odourless bio film, called ‘plaque’ on the tooth surface near the margins of the gums leads to inflammation of the gums. This in turn prompts the gums to bleed with the slightest of provocations.

But first you need to understand. What exactly is a plaque?

In simple words, plaque is a soft and sticky biofilm that builds up on your teeth surfaces, restorations and prosthetic appliances (including dentures and bridges) if left undisturbed. It contains millions of bacteria and can cause tooth decay and gum diseases if left undisturbed. It is colourless to pale yellow in colour. When it is colourless, it is harder to detect. Making it all the more important to maintain good oral hygiene – through tooth brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist every six-eight months for an oral health check-up.

Furthermore, when left undisturbed for prolonged periods, dental plaque may harden into ‘dental calculus’ (a hard yellowish to brownish substance also known as tartar). Calculus/tartar cannot be removed through regular tooth brushing, but only through professional cleaning at the dental office/clinic.

If you find yourself bleeding from the gums when you brush your teeth, it is your body signalling you to seek professional help. Your body is telling you that your gums are inflamed and unhealthy. Infact, it is preventing further periodontal worsening (Periodontitis) of your gums. Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum inflammation/disease. It is an infection of the gums, jawbone and supportive tissues that connect your teeth to the gums. If left untreated, periodontitis can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out

Nevertheless, it is also important to understand that, in rare cases, bleeding gums may also indicate other pathological issues like leukaemia (blood cancer), deficiency of Vitamins like C and K, ill-fitting oral dentures, intake of certain drugs like (warfarin, heparin and aspirin), and/or lack of clotting cells in the body (platelets). Hence, you are required to pay a visit to your dentist to rule out any such ailments or abnormalities.

When you experience tenderness and bleeding of gums, use a soft bristled toothbrush. Medium and hard bristles may be too abrasive for your delicate gums. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water, as that can help soothe swollen gums. Immediately, book an appointment with your dentist.

Visiting your dentist every six to eight months and undergoing professional cleaning of your teeth at these visits can go a long way in protecting the health of your gums and also in catching any other related ailments at an early stage. Your dentist will let you know if you have gingivitis and in case you do, will initiate the necessary treatment for it. He/she will also teach you how to brush your teeth properly (proper toothbrushing and flossing can remove plaque from your gum line), and may prescribe an antiseptic mouthwash to minimize plaque formation.

Stay healthy.

Thank you, take care & God bless you!

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