Bleeding Gums – Why Is This Happening To Me?
As a dental professional I occasionally have a patient that gets my spider sense tingling. From The moment I started cleaning her teeth I knew I was going to be running late, and miss my daughter’s piano recital. Talk about bleeding gums . I ask her if she had noticed her bleeding gums before. She told me her gums had always bleed “a little”, but had recently gotten worse. As a result she wasn’t brushing as much. Upon further inspection she had a classic case of gingivitis that had gone into the acute phase.
If your gums bleed It doesn’t mean you’ve traumatized yourself. It means you’ve discovered where bacteria are growing.
This scenario is common, but what I found disconcerting was her reaction to the bleeding. This patient, and a large majority of people make the false assumption that if their gums bleed, brushing the teeth will only make it worse. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bleeding gums are rarely a result of toothbrush trauma. Bleeding gums are a result of the body’s immune system reacting to the presence of bacterial growth. Think about what happens when you get a mosquito bite. The area swells up, turns red, and hurts. These symptoms are caused by the immune system reacting to a toxic presence. Relative to the gums, bacteria is the toxic presence.
Around every tooth, just below the gum line is a small pocket called the sulcus. As a result of it’s anatomy It’s the perfect place for bacteria to grow. It’s warm, moist and difficult to clean out. Coincidentally there’s more bacterial growth in this place than a bathroom floor. It’s the reason you should be brushing 45 degrees into the gum line to clean this pocket out. Media, has convinced us that a healthy mouth means sexy white teeth arranged in a perfectly symmetrical arch. However, what good are sexy white teeth if the foundation that holds them is weaker than my grandmother’s tricep. The gums should be as tough as the skin on your arm. Somehow, we don’t make this connection when it comes to our gums. We wrongly assume that if the gums bleed we have done something traumatic. In reality, it’s what we haven’t done that causes it.
All that bacteria does is grow, multiply and release toxins.
Your body hates this with a passion, so does the only thing it can; which is increase the blood flow to the area. In effect this increased blood flow carries white blood cells to fight infection and kill bacteria. However, the mouth is not a sealed system like the rest of your body, and is constantly resupplied with nutrients for bacterial growth. Furthermore, if our brushing technique is poor, we only remove a portion of the bacteria thereby allowing the body’s inflammatory response to continue. The teeth and gums are the only places where the body needs help to remove bacteria. Have you ever seen someone who has a red halo around all their front teeth?. It’s inflammation caused by poor brushing. That red halo is the body screaming for help. If you notice bleeding while brushing or dental floss that smells bad; there’s too much bacteria and you need to make a change.
Therefore, if you’ve been diagnosed with gingivitis, notice bleeding gums, perform the following in this order.
Learn the Bass method of tooth brushing.
This ensures that you will be brushing 45 degrees into the gum line where all those nasty little critters camp out and keep the fires of inflammation stoked ( bleeding gums ). If you need help with this tooth brushing method go to Amazon and purchase the MD Brush. It’s designed for the Bass method and breaks the cycle of poor tooth brushing. However, be prepared; if you’ve spent your entire life brushing on autopilot without any consideration to what you were physically doing, changing to the Bass method will be like driving on the left side of the road in Scotland for the very 1st time. Be patient, your teeth are worth it. Usually 2-3 days with the MD Brush is average to break the cycle and retrain the arm.
Yes, I know it sucks, and nobody does it but we’re preventing bleeding gums, right? Personally, and professionally, I’m OK if you floss 3 times a week, BUT there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Simply popping the floss in between the teeth won’t cut the mustard or should I say goop. You must scrape the teeth, which means pulling or pushing against the teeth when the floss goes up and down in between the teeth. Oh, and those little wishbone thingies with the floss in-between; not a fan. I’ve still seen cases of gingivitis with them. If you’re going to take the time to floss, do it the right, and use the stuff that wraps around your digits. I like the GLIDE brand.
Brush with Listerine Mouthwash
After toothpaste brush your teeth with the mouthwash for 30 seconds. Spit the mouthwash out but don’t rinse with water.Provided you don’t rinse, the residual Listerine will continue to kill bacteria for several hours providing a lasting effect that prevents the growth of new bacteria, Brushing with Listerine is different from rinsing, because it forces the gums to open up, allowing greater penetration below the gum line.
I only recommend using Listerine once a day. Like any alcohol, moderation is key.
If you think you have periodontal disease, notice pus, or have teeth that are loose; make an appointment with your dentist today. Periodontal disease is serious, and can put you at higher risk for heart disease and a few other nasties not to mention a full plate denture.
Written By Mike Davidson – Maverick Dental Hygienist and CEO