One of my patients’ chief complaints is bleeding gums. What is the cause, and why does it happen?
Bleeding from the gums is caused by one of two possibilities:
- Brushing too hard (trauma)
If you are using a hard toothbrush or brushing incorrectly, this can cause injury to your gums and make them bleed. Ensure that you are using a soft toothbrush and brush your teeth and gums gently in a circular motion.
Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, is caused by an accumulation of plaque around the teeth and gums. If you are not effectively removing plaque from the gum margins, your gums will swell up and bleed in response to the bacterial load in your gums.
How do I prevent/ stop bleeding gums?
Good brushing and flossing technique is essential in effectively cleaning your teeth.
Using a soft toothbrush, brush all teeth in a circular motion. Place toothbrush at a 45 degree toward the gums and sweep the brush down from the gumline.
Brush all teeth for 2 minutes (1 minute on the top teeth, 1 minute on the bottom teeth). Don’t forget to brush your tongue too!
Do you know that by not flossing regularly you are not cleaning around 40% of your tooth surfaces? Here’s how to do it properly:
Wind a long piece of floss around your third or middle fingers, leaving your index and thumb fingers free to manipulate the floss.
Gently slide the floss in between you teeth and hug the floss around the surface of one tooth, rubbing up and down to remove plaque.
Move the floss into the gum, cleaning beneath the gumline. This should be done gently to avoid cutting into your gum. Repeat on all in-between surfaces of your teeth.
Although this sounds involved, once you get the hang of it, it will get easier. Start with your front teeth, and as you get better, move toward your back ones. Practice makes perfect. Focus on having good oral hygiene routines and remember, it is not only important to take care of your teeth, but also the gums that support them. Happy flossing!
What is the impact of your oral health on your overall health, and why must you be diligent about your oral hygiene?
The health of your mouth often mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. If you are generally healthy, your mouth will reflect that. Conversely, if you have poor oral health, that will directly impact on your body condition.
The link between gum health and other diseases
Research has shown that there is a direct link between gum (periodontal) disease and heart health. If you have active periodontitis, you are at increased risk of developing heart disease.
Severe gum disease in women has also been shown to be correlated to an increased risk of pre-term delivery and giving birth to a low birth-weight baby. New research constantly shows links between poor gum health and its association with other diseases.
How your mouth can give you clues about your health
Many health complications or diseases can have oral manifestations such as dry mouth, swollen gums and mouth ulcers . Your dentist may be able to pick up early stages of health concerns at your regular dental check-up.
This is a compelling reason to maintain your oral health and hygiene. Ensure that you brush twice daily, floss once daily and visit your dentist every 6 months to maintain tip-top oral hygiene so as to minimise health risks.
As we welcome 2017, we would like to wish you all a Happy New Year, and a great start to your oral health!
As the holiday season fast approaches, we would like to inform you that the surgery will be closed from 25th December and re-opening on 3rd January. We will be taking appointments up until 5m 23rd December.
If you should require, Dr. Yen may be available for emergency dental care during the Christmas break. Just call our line on 9880 8292, and we will endeavour to attend to your needs at the earliest convenience.
From all the staff at Lynette Yen Dentistry, we wish you a joyous and Merry Christmas!
Recently, I came across a patient with severe erosion of her teeth, and that prompted me to write an entry about it. “Jane” is in her thirties and has had a history of drinking energy drinks, which was the cause of her dental erosion.
What are energy drinks?
Energy drinks contain caffeine for a stimulatory effect, and some can also contain other additives, such as vitamins, herbal supplements, and guarana, a plant product that contains concentrated caffeine. These drinks claim to give you a boost in energy levels, help you with alertness and improve concentration. The most well known brand is Red Bull.
Why are energy drinks a problem?
While the caffeine level in each individual drink is relatively low, there is concern when multiple drinks are drunk in a short time, or consumed along with other products containing caffeine, such as caffeine tablets or coffee. These drinks are also particularly marketed to the younger audience, and there is concern over the effect of high doses of caffeine in this age group, particularly children and adolescents.
A common trend for young people, particularly university-age kids, is to mix energy drinks with alcohol. The stimulatory effect of the energy drinks masks the sedative effect of alcohol, allowing more consumption of alcohol. This combination can have adverse, even lethal effects.
So what is the impact on your teeth?
Energy drinks contain high levels sugar levels, and are highly acidic. If drunk frequently, the high acid levels erode your tooth enamel (hard protective layer of the tooth). As a consequence, teeth are much more susceptible to sensitivity and tooth decay.
Back to Jane…
At her dental appointment, we found that many of Jane’s teeth had suffered severe enamel erosion, and she reported that her teeth often felt very sensitive. Three of her teeth had cracked due to loss of the protective enamel layer, needing fillings and dental crowns.
We thoroughly discussed the effect of energy drinks on her teeth, and she has now steered clear of them completely. Unfortunately, the changes are irreversible, and Jane may have further dental problems down the track.
Take home message:
- Stay away from sugary drinks, especially energy drinks.
- If you have to drink them, do so through a straw. Dilute them and limit your intake.
- After drinking, rinse your mouth out with fluoridated tap water to neutralise the acid
- Wait an hour for the acid to neutralise before brushing your teeth