According to recently made statistics, more than three-quarters of American adults over the age of 35 suffer from periodontal (gum) disease. While most people with gum disease have the less severe form, called gingivitis, between 5% and 15% of the population has a much more serious type of gum disease known as periodontitis.
When people do not practice proper dental hygiene, bacteria in the mouth form plaque on the teeth. These bacteria may cause your gums to become inflamed, which results in red, swollen, or bleeding gums. For many people with gingivitis, this inflammation is not painful. If you catch gingivitis early, it can be reversed and healed with proper oral hygiene. But left untreated, gingivitis can worsen and ultimately lead to tooth loss. The bacteria on the teeth release toxic substances that harm your gums and cause them to become infected. The infection and the inflammation that result when your body attacks the bacteria can degrade your gums and the bones in your jaw.
Be sure to seek medical attention if you have the following symptoms, even if you are not experiencing any discomfort:
– changes in the way teeth fit together on biting, or in the fit of partial dentures
– formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
– gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
– loose or shifting teeth
– persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
– receding gums
– red, swollen, or tender gums
Furthermore, some women find that they experience gum problems during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. The increase in hormones during puberty can heighten blood flow to the gums, making them red, swollen, and sensitive. For women with menstrual gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and more likely to bleed shortly before each menstrual period. These problems typically subside after the period begins. Pregnancy gingivitis typically starts in the second or third month of pregnancy and continues through the eighth month, causing sore, swollen, and bleeding gums. The use of oral birth control products may cause similar gum problems too.
But let’s see some tips to help you prevent and treat these unpleasant gum issues:
1. Brush your teeth at least twice each day. Make sure you follow proper brushing technique. Whether you opt for a manual or electric toothbrush, choose one with soft nylon bristles that have blunted ends. Even though you can find brushes with medium or hard bristles, they may damage the enamel on your teeth or cause red and swollen gums. When you brush, make sure you use gentle, circular motions to massage and clean the teeth and gums. While many people use a back-and-forth motion, this motion can actually irritate and damage your gums, making them swollen and more likely to bleed or recede.
2. Floss daily. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes, but flossing may be the most important thing you can do to prevent gum problems now and in the future. To help remove plaque from places where your toothbrush cannot reach, to make sure that your healthy habit isn’t causing swollen or bleeding gums, be gentle when you floss. Rather than forcing the floss between your teeth, carefully slide it up and down, following the curve of each tooth.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet. A balanced diet, including plenty of vitamin C and calcium, may minimize the likelihood of experiencing gum problems.
4. Drink plenty of water. Drinking water, especially after eating, can help wash food off your teeth and make it less likely that bacteria will form gum-damaging plaque.
5. Do not smoke. If you smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, try to quit.
6. Try to avoid extremely hot or cold foods and beverages. When you’re experiencing gum problems, you may find you’re more comfortable consuming lukewarm or cool foods and beverages.
7. Relax and don’t stress yourself. Being stressed out raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increasing the likelihood of inflammation throughout your body, including in your gums.