When most people think about dental health, they may focus mostly on preventing decay and cavities in their teeth, but having healthy gums is just as important as having healthy teeth. Healthy gums are vital for your overall well-being and dental health and quite often give early indications of a problem in your mouth. Bleeding and swollen gums are often a sign of gum disease, but other issues that require attention and treatment can also cause such irritation. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize the discomfort and potential damage to sore, painful gums.
Brushing your teeth too vigorously can damage the delicate tissue of your gums, so it’s important that you brush properly. Always choose a soft toothbrush with blunt end nylon bristles because the medium or hard bristled toothbrushes can damage enamel and lead to swollen, red gums. Whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush, move the brush with gentle, circular motions that massage the gums and clean teeth without furious scrubbing. Avoid back and forth motion as this can damage and irritate gums causing gum recession, soreness, and bleeding.
Flossing is an essential part of proper oral hygiene, and a step many people avoid or do incorrectly. Flossing removes plaque where your toothbrush can’t reach, and this is vital because built-up plaque can irritate gums and lead to more severe issues. When you floss, work gently to avoid causing bleeding swollen gums. Don’t force the floss between teeth, but slide it carefully up and down along the curve of each tooth.
Signs of unhealthy gums
Without practicing proper oral hygiene, you increase the risk of having gum disease. Gum disease has different severities from mild gingivitis to the most serious type called periodontitis. One of the main causes of gum disease is improper oral hygiene, which leads to the formation of plaque on the teeth from built up bacteria. The bacteria can lead to inflamed gums that are swollen, red and may bleed. Gingivitis isn’t always painful, but that doesn’t make it harmless. Early treatment of gingivitis helps reverse it and can restore good oral health. Without treatment, gingivitis can get worse, progress to periodontitis and even lead to tooth loss. There are several signs of unhealthy gums including:
- Bleeding gums during and after brushing
- Tender, swollen or red gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Deep pockets between gums and teeth
- Gum recession
- Shifted or loose teeth
- Changes in bite or alignment of teeth
- Change in fit of partial dentures or bridge
Tobacco use and gum health
It isn’t just smoking that’s bad for your gums and oral health; any tobacco use has detrimental effects on your dental and overall health. Smokers are at a higher risk to develop gum disease, and tobacco use can lead to bleeding, sensitive gums, and mouth sores.
Prevent gum issues
To prevent gum issues such as bleeding, swelling or soreness, maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Eating a well-balanced diet with ample calcium and Vitamin C can help minimize the potential for gum issues. Drink adequate water, especially after meals to help wash food particles from your teeth and prevent the development of bacteria that leads to plaque. If you’re a smoker or use other tobacco products, look into ways to quit to improve your oral and overall health. Relax and try to keep your stress levels low because high stress raises the hormone cortisol in your body, which can cause inflammation in your entire body, including your gums.
If you experience any swelling, bleeding or soreness in your gums, contact Dupont Dental to set up a professional dental exam and cleaning to help improve and protect your oral health.