What Are Your Gums Telling You?

Jamie J. Alexander on February 22, 2022

February is gum health awareness month, and at Jamie J. Alexander, DDS in Boynton Beach, Florida, we would like to raise awareness about the importance of healthy gums.

Healthy gums are essential for:

  • healthy teeth
  • a healthy body
  • a beautiful smile

Our gums can tell us a lot about the health of our mouth and the health of our body as a whole. If they bleed or they become inflamed or sore, we should care enough to find out why and take action to improve their health. Because if we don’t care, the consequences can be severe.

Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth?

  • Bleeding gums are a common symptom of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease caused by plaque buildup at the gumline.
  • Gums that bleed can also indicate periodontitis, a more severe gum disease that can impact the bone and tissue that support your teeth.
  • Bleeding gums can be a side effect of some medications, including blood thinners.
  • In some cases, bleeding gums are a sign of an underlying health issue like diabetes or kidney disease.
  • Bleeding gums can be a sign of vitamin C deficiency.
  • Bleeding gums can also indicate a problem with dentures or existing dental work.
  • If you’re new to flossing, your gums may bleed a little when you first start. Remember to floss gently and continue doing it daily.

Are your gums red and puffy?

Gum swelling indicates inflammation. When it occurs around a single tooth, most often it is a sign of bacteria building up around the base of the tooth and extending into the space between the gums and tooth roots. It may occur when there is an infection in a tooth.

If there is gum inflammation throughout your mouth, it may be the result of hormonal changes such as pregnancy, or the result of a yeast infection (thrush) or chemotherapy.

Are your gums painful?

Sore gums can be an early warning sign of gum infection. But soreness also can be the result of a canker sore, a cut or bruise, irritation from braces, chemotherapy, or brushing and flossing too roughly. Brushing with stiff bristles might have cut or abraded your gums.

What should you do if you have gum issues?

Be curious about the changes you are observing in your mouth. Sure, do online research about them but we urge you to make an appointment with the dentist or dental hygienist to diagnose and guide you. Acting to eliminate gum issues is important for the following reasons.

  • Gum tissue is full of small blood vessels. If you have a cut on your gums, oral bacteria have an opening to enter your bloodstream. Swelling in gum issue around a wound is the body’s response to fight bacteria. Your body has automatically rushed white blood cells to the site of the wound. Rinsing frequently with warm salt water will be therapeutic, but if the swelling persists and the wound does not show signs of healing, schedule a dental appointment.
  • If you have bacterial plaque building at the base of teeth, it irritates the gums, causes inflammation, and increases the risk of oral bacteria entering your bloodstream.
  • Once in your bloodstream, oral bacteria can exacerbate many systemic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic disorders, dementia, and accelerating cancer growth.
  • Untreated gum infection advances. When it is ignored, enamel decay, root infection, periodontal bone loss, and tooth loss can occur. Healthy gums and periodontal bones are required to keep teeth firmly in place and healthy as well.
  • If your gums are telling you there are issues, pay attention. Don’t delay in seeing your dentist. The dental care you need could be more extensive if you delay. You might be jeopardizing more than your oral health. For example, you might be increasing the risk or effects of other diseases in your body.

Let us evaluate your oral health and inform you about the best path forward. We can recommend additional ways to care for your gums at home, treat infection in our office, and provide appropriate therapies to minimize future gum issues. One treatment you may need is root planing and scaling. If underlying medical conditions are suspected, these will be discussed with you, so you understand the importance of seeing your primary physician.

Every person has need of support in maintaining a healthy mouth and battling gum disease. Please do not feel shy or embarrassed to seek the care you need. We all need this care.

How can you keep your gums healthy?

The entire dental team at Jamie J. Alexander, DDS wants to help you have the finest care, and we will happily provide individualized home care recommendations in addition to in-office diagnosis and treatment.

Here are tips for keeping those gums healthy:

  • Schedule twice-a-year appointments for a prophylactic dental cleaning and dental examination. Our compassionate hygienist and Dr. Alexander will take time to discuss your concerns and thoroughly examine your mouth. A cancer screening will be included. Preventive care helps catch any potential problems early.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and string floss daily. Add water flossing to your routine for extra measure.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid irritation.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater to reduce inflammation.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Don’t use tobacco products.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Take vitamin supplements if needed to make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin C, D, and other nutrients.
  • Use alcohol in moderation or not at all.

Healthy gums go hand in hand with oral health–and your overall physical health. Call our Boynton Beach, FL dental office to partner in addressing your gum issues today!