A: If your face bled when you washed, you would be immediately concerned. Yet, many people think it’s normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. Swollen and bleeding gums are early signs that your gums are infected with harmful bacteria.
There are many different types of bacteria that live in our mouths—many of them beneficial. However, it’s the bacteria associated with plaque (the sticky substance that forms on your teeth after meals) that do the most harm. In an effort to get rid of the bacteria that hide out under the gums, the cells of your immune system release substances that inflame and damage the gums. This leads to swollen, bleeding gums; and damage from periodontal disease can cause teeth to become loose.
In recent years, gum disease has been linked to other health problems. Atherosclerosis and heart disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Respiratory Disease, and even Premature Birth are all showing connections to periodontal disease. You can prevent periodontal disease by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly. Most people should see the dentist about once every six months. But if you already have gum disease you may need to visit more often.
The good news is most periodontal disease will respond well to early detection, therapy, and identification of risk factors unique to each patient. Your dentist will want to help you! With proper care you can enjoy a lifetime of smiles with your natural teeth.
Information provided by Dr. Eric Forsberg, DDS, Altoona Smiles, 950 28th Ave. S.W., Altoona, 515-200-1310.