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05 July 2014

How do I stop my gums from bleeding?

Gum disease refers to gingivitis—bleeding, sensitive gums, and periodontal disease— sore, swollen, or infected gums.

What you probably don’t know is that gum disease is quite common. It affects 15-20% of the world’s populations. In the UK, it is estimated that more than half of the adult population have some degree of gum disease. Most people experience it at least once in their lifetime. That is alarming in any case. The good thing about this is that it’s relatively less common in children.

Telltale signs of gum disease may include bad breath and bleeding, sensitive gums when you brush your teeth. Bleeding gums is also known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more sever condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is a condition wherein the tissues that support the teeth and holds them in place are weakened. In extreme cases, this connective tissue can break away entirely. An estimated 15% of the adult population in the UK has severe periodontitis. More people are afflicted with less severe periodontitis.

Gum disease is usually caused by significant plaque build-up on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance containing bacteria that coats your teeth and accumulates if you do not brush your teeth regularly. Some bacteria in plaque can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Once it builds up, it can irritate your gums and cause soreness and inflammation.

Mild cases of gum disease can be treated, even reversed by regular dental check-ups and practicing good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene includes brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily. Do not pass up on dental appointments since on some of these sessions, your dentist performs professional teeth cleaning which can thoroughly remove even hardened plaque or tartar. Listen carefully when your dentist or dental hygienist provides you with advice on how to clean your teeth effectively tom prevent plaque build-up in the future.

If periodontitis is left untreated, the bone connecting your teeth to your jaw can decay, and gaps can open up between the teeth and gums. These gaps are called gum abscesses which contain painful deposits of pus. This can cause your teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. In cases of advanced gum disease, depending on the severity of the damage, you might be required to undergo a surgical treatment. Some may involve more complex non-surgical treatment. Surgical treatment is usually performed by a periodontics specialist.

If you experience painful, swollen, or bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will perform a thorough dental examination to determine the health and condition of your gums. This may involve inserting a periodontal probe—a thin metal stick with a bend at one end beside your teeth. Or, you may be required to undergo a dental x-ray to accurately check the condition of your teeth and jaw bone. Those who have a high risk of developing gum problems are recommended to visit their dentist more frequently for closer monitoring of dental health. The same goes for those who have experienced gum disease in the past.

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