When you brush or floss your teeth, it is not normal to see blood or experience pain or tenderness in your gums. Bleeding or sore gums are often the first signs of a mild form of gum disease known as gingivitis. Puffiness or redness of the gums may also be noticed. Healthy gums are pink and firm, never swollen, red or tender.
A more advanced type of gum disease, known as periodontal disease, can cause constant bad breath, loose teeth and gums that pull away from the teeth. Many people think that gum disease happens only to the elderly. Teenagers can also get this problem if their teeth do not receive proper care. If you notice any of these signs, it is very important to see your dentist as soon as possible. When left untreated, this condition can advance to a very serious problem, even to the point of having teeth fall out.
Gum disease is an infection caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is a sticky, unseen layer of bacteria that naturally forms on gums and teeth. When left unchecked, the toxins that these germs create will harm gums. If plaque is not removed, it will eventually become hard. Hard and crusty plaque is called tartar which will begin to damage the gum tissue and cause them to bleed and pull away. This is why brushing, flossing and regular maintenance by your dentist is so important.
The good news is that once there is gum disease, it can be treated by a dentist and continue to be treated by you with regular maintenance at home. Home-care includes daily brushing and flossing, along with stopping other things that contribute to gum disease, like smoking and sugary foods.
Even better news is that gum disease can be prevented with a daily routine on your own along with visits to your dentist at least twice a year. Your dentist will be able to remove any plaque and tartar that you may be missing at home. Committing yourself to preventable maintenance will keep gum disease from having any chance of becoming a health problem.