When our gums bleed, the typical response is to do nothing and assume we just need to get in a better homecare routine. The problem with that mindset is that when the gums are bleeding it’s not just a warning sign. It means there’s already an infection. Infection in the gums can become a serious problem for both the teeth and the rest of the body.
Gums pull away from teeth naturally, but should only recede about 3mm. Anything more than that could be a sign of gum disease. Once gum disease gets going, it begins to destroy tissue and bone structure that supports the teeth. The first stage of gum disease (gingivitis) can be reversed. But once a certain amount of damage has been done to the bone, we can’t get it back naturally. That’s why tooth loss is often an end result of gum disease.
When gums recede too far it’s also easier for them to harbor bacteria because they form what we call “pockets.” Not only are these pockets bad for the teeth, but also the body. We call this the oral-systemic link. The oral-systemic link means that infection in the mouth can spread to the body through the bloodstream. For example, one common mouth bacteria has been found in the blood clots of heart attack and stroke patients.
The good news is, all of these problems are preventable. We just have to pay a little closer attention to our teeth. Hygiene appointments allow plaque to be cleared that you would never get with a toothbrush. You should ask your hygienist for your gum measurements so that you’re in the loop. It’s also good to have your individual needs evaluated such as which kind of toothbrush you should use. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation at our practice, please call 865-329-7815.