Bleeding Gums (The Bloody Truth)
So, you have a case of the bleeding gums, eh?
I’ve gone over this a little bit in the past, why your gums bleed, of course. In terms of dentistry, that only really occurs because of one main reason: gum disease. I know, it’s a really bad word, but, it’s more common than you may think.
The number of adults in the U.S. that have some form of gum disease, or periodontitis (perio = gums, -itis = inflammation or swelling) is pretty staggering. In adults, between the ages of 30 and 65, the percentage is about 47%. That’s over 64 million adults. The percentage of those with periodontitis increases to about 70% with adults over the age of 65. Of course, this includes those with even moderate gum disease, but still, it is a serious issue that affects a lot of Americans. (Don’t take my word for it.)
Gum disease itself is basically an infection of the gums. Just like other parts of the body, when infection occurs the area around it will become tender, swollen, and red. The gums around the teeth become tender, swollen and red. The infection is the bacteria forming plaque and dental calculus (hardened plaque) on and around your teeth. The body, in general, does not like infection. In fact, it REALLY doesn’t like it. In the case of the gum disease, your body doesn’t like it so much that it attempts to eject the “source” of the infection (your teeth) right out of the mouth. The bone surrounding your teeth will begin to resorb (dissolve) in an attempt to get rid of the teeth with the heavy load of bacteria on them. The jaw bone resorption will in turn lower the level of gum surrounding your teeth and actually creates “pockets” around the teeth that are infected. Bacteria will go into the pocket and stay there. You can’t floss down there, you can’t brush down there. Those bacteria just stay in the pockets and keep the infection alive. Brutal little buggers. Bleeding gums are not a “normal” occurrence by any standards. Bleeding gums arise from infection.
What can be done:
The key word for me, when talking of oral health, is preventative. Go see your doctor every 6 months or so. This will help in early diagnosis of gum disease and a better chance to save the bone around your teeth.
If you already have the early stages of periodontitis, or if it’s moderate even, come in to the dentist and get a deep cleaning (scaling). This type of cleaning will remove the calculus and plaque from along the tooth roots itself (as pockets were made from the gum disease, allowing the bacteria to get all the way down there). In conjunction to this type of cleaning the doctor might also recommend you to get a local delivery of a type of antibiotic delivered right into the pocket that’s needed. It’s super effective.
In the more severe cases of gum disease (passing the point of just noticing now and then that you get bleeding gums when you floss) you may be referred to a periodontist who specializes in gum treatment. They may do bone grafting, gum grafts etc. and place implants in the spots where they had to remove teeth affected by the periodontitis.
As mentioned before, it is not “normal” to have bleeding gums. See a dentist regularly, practice good oral hygiene, and FLOSS. Very important thing there, flossing. Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime, they can’t do that if you’re removing their foundations.
Your oral health is a very large part of your overall health. Having periodontitis (gum disease) can affect your overall health adversely. We’ve seen this, in studies and in person. So, do yourself a favor, take care of the whole bleeding gums issue before it becomes severe gum disease.
Stay healthy my friends.