While it can be easy to discount some mild bleeding when you brush your teeth, this should be taken note of and treated as an important concern. One of the first signs of gum disease, bleeding after brushing tends to indicate the presence of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. As soon as you notice bleeding while brushing, you should consult with experienced periodontists as soon as possible, or your condition could escalate into something more serious.
Triggered by bacterial buildup, this infection can travel below your gum line. Once it reaches the bone structure, it becomes periodontitis, which is a more advanced form of gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease could raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, osteoporosis and even cancer.
Aside from bleeding in your mouth, there are other signs and symptoms to watch out for that will indicate you have gum disease, such as:
- Swollen and/or inflamed gums – Inflammation along the gum line is typically the first symptom of a gum problem. If your gums are tender or painful, it means that they’re inflamed.
- Bad breath – Your mouth is the perfect home for bacteria, because it’s warm and moist. The plaque found in your teeth is also food for them, so the more plaque your mouth has, the more bacteria it hosts. Bacteria produce toxins that give off a foul smell, so if you have bad breath, it could signal a possible gum problem/infection.
- Shrinking gums – Gum recession is one of the leading signs of gum disease. If you notice your teeth looking a lot longer than they used to, it doesn’t mean they’re growing. It only means you have shrinking/receding gums.
- Sensitivity – If drinking a cold or hot beverage causes pain in your teeth, it could be a symptom of periodontal or gum disease. When the sensitive part of the tooth (known as dentin) is exposed, it makes the tooth sensitive to extreme temperatures.
- Loose tooth – When gum disease is not treated right away, the infection can attack the bone structure that keeps your tooth in place, causing it to become loose.
How is Gum Disease Treated?
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. Your dentist will need to assess your mouth, teeth and gums before a treatment will be recommended. For the most part, dentists would perform one or several of these procedures:
- Deep cleaning – For mild to moderate gum disease, dentists usually perform deep cleaning, which is basically a procedure that cleans not only the areas above the gum line but also below it. They will treat you with scaling, which scrapes off tartar below and above your gum line. Root planning may also be necessary, which involves polishing the rough surfaces of the tooth root.
- Medication – Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, enzyme suppressants and/or antiseptics to help eliminate any remaining bacteria in your mouth.
- Surgery – In some moderate to severe cases of gum disease, surgery may be necessary. There are several procedures available, including gum graft surgery and flap surgery. With a gum graft, tissue from another area of your mouth is taken to cover any exposed tooth root so that decay or bone loss can be prevented. With flap surgery, the surgeon will lift the gum tissue to remove tartar deeply embedded in the gum line, stitch back the gum and then tighten it to avoid tartar from getting inside.
Gum disease can have some dire effects on your health, self esteem and well-being. The best way to avoid it is by practicing good oral hygiene and to see your dentist regularly, so that any potential problem can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.