How to Take Care of Your Gums
In this blog post, you’re going to learn how to take care of your gums better and prevent periodontal diseases.
Your gingiva — or “gums” — are crucial to having a healthy smile. Although relatively delicate tissues, their strength and integrity are essential to stabilizing and supporting your teeth. If infected by periodontal disease, that support can go away. Gradually the bone underneath them will shrink too.
Most people are extra attentive to their teeth, but without great gum care, you’ll be missing a significant portion of your dental care and oral health needs.
Brushing Along Your Gums
When you brush, do you also focus on the gum line? If not, now is the time to start! Since plaque biofilm tends to be heaviest along the gum tissues, you’ll want to brush those areas thoroughly. Slightly angle your toothbrush (about 45 degrees) toward your gums, then apply gentle pressure that’s just slight enough to make your gums blanch. Nothing firmer, as aggressive brushing could cause permanent gum recession.
If you notice bleeding gums, that’s ok. Gingivitis can cause your gums to bleed, but proper flossing and brushing can reverse gingivitis within about two weeks.
Brush along the gums inside and outside of your mouth, paying extra attention to your upper back and lower front teeth. These areas are more prone to tartar buildup, due to salivary gland locations.
How to Floss Under Your Gums
Proper flossing includes cleaning just under the edges of your gum tissues. If you have bleeding gums when you floss, it’s probably because you’re not flossing as often as you should. Bleeding is a sign of gum disease, so don’t ignore it or stop flossing.
Wrap your floss in a “C” shape snuggly against the side of one tooth. Rub up and down several times, extending the floss down below your gums. Again, bleeding gums do not mean you should stop flossing. Healthy gums do not bleed. After you’ve cleaned that tooth, lift the floss up and over the pointed gum tissue and move to the next tooth. Repeat the entire process throughout your mouth. Remember to floss behind the back teeth, too!
Why Do My Gums Bleed When I Floss?
Periodontal disease is known for causing bleeding gums and tissue detachment. If you keep your teeth and gums healthy, and you floss every day, they shouldn’t bleed. But bleeding is common if you’re infrequent with your flossing routine. With a proper flossing routine (each day) you can generally reverse gingivitis and bleeding within two weeks.
Invest in a Water Flosser
Water flossers are excellent tools to have on hand to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and keep dangerous bacteria levels to a minimum. Not only are they effective, but they can also reach areas that flossing doesn’t. So, if you have a history of periodontal disease with deep gum pockets, water flossing can flush out biofilm and food particles in pocket areas up to around 7mm deep. Pockets are the open spaces between your tooth roots and unattached gum tissues. Ideally, healthy gums only have pockets up to 2-3mm deep. That’s as deep as proper flossing will reach.
If you have fixed bridges or other areas that require special oral hygiene aids to clean, investing in a water flosser is a good idea. Simply trace your gumlines, allowing the jet of water to flush the areas underneath. Be sure to use lukewarm or slightly warm water (not hot) and adjust the pressure to your comfort level.
Water flossing works for almost everyone. It’s also great for people who have braces. Just be warned, it can be a little messy at first.
Know the Signs of Gum Disease
Gum care includes being aware of your oral health and how healthy your oral tissues are. Early intervention can reverse gingivitis, but if it progresses into periodontal disease you need to seek out professional care. Some of the most common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums
- Gum recession
- Tooth mobility
- Bad breath/halitosis
- Tartar buildup
- Sore or swollen gum
Something seemingly simple like bleeding gums often means there are bigger factors at play. Don’t wait until they evolve into something severe. It’s best to allow your dentist to intercept them as early as possible before your gingival tissues start to detach from your teeth.
The Oral-Systemic Connection
Infected gums or untreated periodontal disease can raise your risk of serious health issues. Some of the medical conditions scientifically proven to be linked to gum disease include diabetes, pneumonia, heart attack, stroke, preeclampsia, infertility, and erectile dysfunction. In studies, gum disease treatment can actually be beneficial to your immune system and recovery of such issues. So, if you have bleeding gums, proper flossing may be just as important as seeing your medical doctor!
Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body so having clean teeth and gums is important. When there are issues like tooth decay, detached or bleeding gums, it allows bacteria oral biofilm to transfer directly from your mouth into your bloodstream. From there, the bacteria can travel throughout the body and become lodged in blood vessels or your heart. We also know that bacteria can be inhaled into the lungs. By reducing active infection in a timely manner, you can better your overall health and quality of life.
Schedule Regular Checkups With Your Dentist
Professional cleanings and intermittent exams are an essential part of preventing periodontal disease and issues like bleeding gums. We recommend scheduling a checkup with your dentist at Canal Vista Family Dental every six months. If you have a history of gum disease, Dr. Bestandji may need to see you as frequently as every 3-4 months (in order to prevent relapse).
During your visit, we’ll professionally clean and remove all buildup, whether it’s soft plaque or hardened tartar. We’ll also measure your gum attachment levels to identify early signs of gum disease before they evolve into something more aggressive. We’ll make you aware of any problem areas and discuss modified hygiene/proper flossing to keep those parts of your smile healthy.
If it’s been longer than six months since your last exam and cleaning, call our Princeton family dental office today! Your dentist is waiting to help you take care of your teeth, gums, and overall health.