FAQS: Gum Health

Why do my gums bleed when I brush and floss?
When gums bleed during brushing or flossing it may be a sign of gingivitis or early periodontal (gum and bone) disease.  The soft white material that builds up on teeth daily is called "plaque".  When this material is not thoroughly removed from the teeth and gum surfaces, it becomes very irritating to the gums making them bleed easily during normal brushing and flossing procedures.  If plaque remains for an extended period of time, it will turn into a hard mineralized substance strongly attached to the teeth called calculus or "tartar".  When this occurs, the patient is at a greater risk of developing infection of the gum and bone tissue supporting the teeth.  This infection is called Periodontal Disease and is the #1 reason why people lose their teeth prematurely.

Why do my gums bleed more when I'm pregnant?
Many women experience swollen and bleeding gums when they are pregnant.  An increase in swelling or bleeding gums during pregnancy can be caused by the increase in hormonal activity during pregnancy.  This hormonal activity can make your gums more sensitive to the build-up of plaque and calculus on the teeth.  It is important to visit your dentist regularly or even an extra time during pregnancy for a thorough cleaning and to make sure the bleeding gums are not transitioning into a more serious dental infection.  Brushing regularly, especially along the gum line in addition to properly flossing each day can minimize the amount of inflammation and bleeding.

How do I maintain healthy gums?
Healthy gums begin with the patient's proper care and maintenance at home on a daily basis.  Everyone should brush their teeth properly at least twice each day with a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush for a total of two minutes each time.  Two minutes has been proven to be the amount of time necessary to properly clean all surfaces of the teeth.  Unfortunately proper brushing techniques will not remove plaque that accumulates directly in between the teeth.  This is a popular area for decay to develop and for gum tissue to become inflamed.  Flossing properly at least once each day will not only keep your gums much healthier, it will also help to prevent the development of decay.  In addition to proper home care, regular visits to Lincoln Avenue Dental Group for professional cleanings (at least every six months) is important as your dental hygienist is able to reach areas people simply cannot with brushing and flossing at home.  A licensed dental hygienist is able to remove the build-up of calculus or "tartar".  Calculus can only be removed properly by your dental hygienist using specially designed instruments.  Brushing and flossing alone does not remove calculus.

Gum Health