Gum Problems 101: What to Do About Sore, Bleeding and Swollen Gums

If you are brushing your teeth as directed, you may think you have good oral hygiene. However, it is still easy to miss plaque and debris around or under your gums if you do not brush with the right frequency or technique.

When bacteria begin to thrive around your gums, your gums may become swollen or tender. You may also experience a lot of bleeding when you bite into food or brush your teeth. Whenever you experience such symptoms or general soreness, it is a sign of developing gum problems.

Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a leading cause of gum issues. However, your gum problems can also stem from hormonal changes, medications or other ailments. Regardless of the reason, treating your gums quickly is essential to prevent worsening symptoms or additional medical issues. Failure to recognize gum problems quickly may result in permanent damage, including the loss of teeth. Here are some steps you can take to alleviate sore, bleeding and swollen gums.

Home Methods for Reducing Gum Problems

One way to reduce gum problems at home is to maintain good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth at least twice daily helps keep the bacteria count in your mouth low. However, you must use proper brushing techniques to get the best results. For example, brushing your gum line is essential to when it comes to limiting the risks of infection and minimizing swelling or soreness. If you are already experiencing these symptoms, you may experience some bleeding while brushing, but this lessens as your gum health improves. Consistently flossing between your teeth and using antibacterial mouthwash can also prevent or reduce gum issues.

Related article: The Benefits of Preventive Dental Care

Another way to reduce gum problems at home is to change your eating habits. Oral bacteria use sugar as fuel to create acids. Those acids eat away at your teeth and cause damage to your gums. In general, the saliva in your mouth can rinse away some of those acids and other debris. However, excessive acid levels or low saliva levels may cause an imbalance, allowing bacteria to multiply.  Positive changes you can make to your eating habits in order to restore balance include:

  • Eating fewer sugary snacks.
  • Drinking or eating dairy products to fortify your teeth with calcium.
  • Eating crunchy foods like celery or carrots, which requires more chewing and increases your saliva production.
  • Drinking water while eating or soon after meals to rinse debris off your teeth.
  • Dental Deep Cleaning

Plaque is a film-like substance formed on your teeth by bacteria. It is generally soft and easy to remove soon after it forms. However, if left on your teeth or under your gum line, it hardens to form tartar, also known as calculus. Tartar is much more difficult to remove and often cannot be removed by simply brushing your teeth at home. To remove it thoroughly, you need professional assistance from your dentist. He or she can perform procedures to help alleviate your symptoms, such as a deep cleaning. It is also called scaling and root planning.

This is a two-part process designed to remove as much debris and bacteria from your gums and the surrounding areas as possible. Scaling is the part of the deep cleaning process your dentist uses to remove tartar. Tartar under your gum line inside the pockets where your teeth sit is the primary target of the scaling procedure. The root planning portion of the procedure removes rough spots on the roots of your teeth. By smoothing the surfaces of the tooth roots, your dentist makes it more difficult for tartar and bacteria to cling to your tooth roots.

Related article: How to Save on Dental Costs

It is worth noting that the deep cleaning process itself can cause a temporary increase in swelling and bleeding. However, cleaning out the bacteria can lessen your gum inflammation over time. Your dentist may also use a laser to perform the deep cleaning. Use of a laser can lessen bleeding and other potential symptoms from the treatment.

Treating Gums with Medication

When you see your dentist for a deep cleaning, he or she is likely to use medications to treat your gum disease or other gum problems. One medication commonly used is an antibiotic gel. This gel is rubbed on your gums directly to fight issues caused by a bacterial infection. It also helps to reduce the depth of the pockets, making it more difficult for future bacteria to accumulate in them. Alternatively, a gelatinous antiseptic chip or antibiotic microspheres may be applied directly to the area for the same purpose.

Other medications to treat gum problems are also sometimes prescribed, and must be taken on an ongoing basis after your dentist appointment. For example, the dentist may recommend you rinse your mouth with a prescription antimicrobial rinse on a regular basis to reduce infection. Two oral medications in pill or capsule form may also be prescribed. One is an enzyme suppressant, which can keep your body from accidentally damaging your gums more by producing harmful natural enzymes. The other is an oral antibiotic designed to eradicate the gum infection over time.

Gum Surgery

If you have severe gum problems, including advanced gum disease, surgery may be required to restore your gum health. One option is flap surgery, which involves an oral surgeon peeling your gums away from your teeth to clean behind them. He or she can also take the opportunity to reduce the size of gum pockets in order to make cleanings in the future easier. Your gums are then sutured back in place while they heal. When healing is complete, they tighten around your teeth again.

In the worst cases, your gum problems may lead to bone loss. For example, the bone that holds your teeth in place can begin to erode when you have a missing tooth, leading to problems with your gums and other surrounding teeth. If this is the case, your dentist may perform bone or tissue graft surgery to repair the damage. By placing a piece of real or synthetic bone in the irritated area, regeneration of the bone tissue can be triggered. When bone structure is restored, it allows your gum health to improve. Your dentist may also apply a mesh to the area to keep bone and gum tissues growing properly during your recovery.

Related article: Why is Teeth Grinding Harmful?

It might also interest you: