Dr Bernard Siew of SMILEFOCUS reveals how to prevent and treat bleeding gums.
Bleeding gums is one of the most common – and ignored – dental problems. According to a Singapore Dental Health Foundation report, more than 90 percent of our nation’s population has noticed some degree of bleeding when brushing their teeth and usually don’t think twice about it, typically because the bleeding stops fairly quickly and doesn’t hurt. But in truth, bleeding gums are a sign of impending or established gum disease and is something to address with care.
Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is predominantly caused by a long-term build-up of plaque – a sticky film of bacteria which accumulates on the tooth’s surface. If plaque is not removed regularly, it progresses into a hardened substance called tartar at the base of the tooth causing irritation and inflammation to the gum and consequently causing gingivitis. Another cause of gingivitis is injury due to overly vigorous brushing or flossing.
If gingivitis is not treated promptly or properly it can lead to periodontal disease, which not only affects the gums but also the bone that supports the teeth. Other causes of bleeding gumsinclude hormonalchanges during pregnancy, ill-fitting dentures, improper flossing, tooth or gum-related infections, vitamin K deficiency, leukemia, scurvy, or the use of blood thinners. If you notice your gums are bleeding – sometimes a thorough professional clean may be all you need!
Treat & prevent gingivitis
Brush twice a day Choose a brush with soft-to-medium bristles. And remember, it’s the length of time you brush rather than the amount of pressure you apply, which is most important in ensuring the efficacy of your teeth cleaning technique.
Floss at least once a day.
Visit your dentist every six months for a check-up and professional cleaning.
Rinse with salt water or hydrogen peroxide and water.
Avoid using mouthwashes which contain alcohol as this may aggravate the problem.
Avoid smoking as it aggravates bleeding gums.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency, take recommended vitamin supplements.
Avoid aspirin unless recommended by your healthcare provider.
Massage gums using an oral irrigation device on a low setting.
Consult your dentist if your dentures don’t fit correctly, or if they’re causing sore spots in your gums.
Dr Bernard Siew B.D.S (Adelaide)
Dr Bernard Siew, originally from Australia, is a general dentist who concentrates primarily on cosmetic dentistry. He is experienced in teeth whitening and total smile makeovers using veneers, crowns and bridgework.