When gums are tender, red, swollen and/or bleeding; gum disease is quite often looked to as the culprit. However, there are other reasons gums may be “acting up”. Even if no discomfort is experienced, it is incredibly important to visit the dentist so the source of the symptoms can be addressed. So what causes gums to turn red? Swell? Bleed? Read below for possible causes of irritated gums.
Gingivitis, typically a painless condition, is the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis occurs when plaque is not adequately removed from the teeth over time. Plaque contains harmful bacteria that attacks the gums, causing them to swell and often mildly bleed while brushing or flossing. The level of discomfort with gingivitis varies from patient to patient. What does not vary, is the seriousness of this disease. If gingivitis progresses it can lead to very painful gums, bone deterioration and tooth loss.
Ever notice only one area swelling? Local gum swelling is often due to an infection. An infection is typically accompanied by throbbing, inflamed gums and a slight fever. This type of infection in the mouth is most often due to an abscessed tooth. To treat an abscessed tooth you will need to contact your local Clayton dental office and set up an appointment right away. Once the cause is diagnosed, your dentist will take appropriate action to get your oral health back in line. If left untreated, tooth loss and further infection can occur.
A condition called “gingival overgrowth” can be caused by certain medications. This is when the gum tissue becomes so swollen, it starts to grow over the teeth. It is very important to note that while gums may become inflamed, they should not bleed. While taking this medication we recommend more frequent visits to the dentist and being diligent about oral care. Medications that have been linked to swelling and gingival overgrowth include calcium channel blockers, Phenytoin and Cyclosporine. Patients going through chemotherapy have complained of sore gums as well.
New Brushing and Flossing Habits
Purchase a hard bristled toothbrush? Brushing too hard? Soft to medium bristled toothbrushes are recommended for daily brushing. These bristles are gentle enough to not cause irritation but strong enough to remove debris. When brushing, use light pressure. Scrubbing too hard on a daily basis can cause your gums to recede which eventually will result in exposed roots. Exposed tooth roots are very sensitive and can leave your mouth more vulnerable to infection. If you can’t seem to lighten up on the pressure, look for an electric toothbrush that can do it for you!
Are you new to flossing? If you haven’t flossed in a while or are new to it, you may experience a bit of blood and irritation. This should not persist more than a week. If it seems too abnormal or the slight bleeding doesn’t stop, contact your dentist.
Taking Care of Your Gums
A healthy well-balanced diet plays just as an important role in oral health as it does overall health. Proper nutrition, good oral hygiene habits (brushing, flossing, daily mouth rinse) and keeping up with your dental check-ups will help keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you are experiencing inflamed and/or bleeding gums in Clayton, don’t wait for the issue to progress, contact Dr. Folden W Lee DDS today!