Gum Problems

1. When I brush my teeth, my gums bleed. Why is that?

Bleeding gums are often associated with gingivitis or the inflammation of the gums. To treat gingivitis, all sources of irritation to the gums, such as plaque or tartar, must be removed. It is best to consult with your dentist so that he may properly assess your condition.

2. May I know what gingivitis is?

Gingivitis means the swelling of the gums due to bacteria and plaque.

3. What is plaque? And is it similar to tartar? And how do I acquire it?

Plaque comprises mostly of bacteria and food debris, which are formed as early as four hours after tooth brushing. While tartar is the whitish to yellow clay-like consistency found above the gum line, or the dark brown to greenish black, hard flint-like structure deposited within the gums. We acquire both the plaque and tartar if we do not brush and floss regularly.

4. How would plaque and tartar cause gum disease?

Plaque and tartar accumulate underneath the gum margins, and are capable of synthesizing harmful products that may cause swelling and damage to the gums and underlying bone.

5. How do I know if I have gingivitis?

One would have the following symptoms:

  • mouth odor
  • gum swelling
  • gum redness
  • gum bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • change in normal contour of the gums

6. What about periodontitis? Is it different from gingivitis?

Periodontitis is a disease of the gums and its supporting structures, the bone and the gum attachment to the tooth. It is also caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar. It is different from gingivitis, because gingivitis is the swelling of the gums, while periodontitis is the swelling of the gums AND loss of bone supporting the tooth.

7. What are the signs that I may have periodontitis?

One would have the following:

  • Bleeding gums
  • gum pockets of more than 1 mm deep
  • tooth mobility of more than 1 mm
  • bone loss
  • gum swelling
  • localized pain or sensation of pressure
  • foul taste in mouth
  • itchiness of the gums
  • tooth sensitivity to cold and heat
  • toothache in the absence of decay

8. What are the necessary procedures needed to confirm if I have periodontitis?

A simple panoramic or periapical x-ray and a clinical examination by the dentist can confirm if one has the disease, and its extent.

9. Who are at risk to have gum disease?

People at risk are the following:

  • diabetes
  • malocclusion (teeth crowding)
  • poor dental hygiene
  • mouth breathers
  • faulty restorations
  • HIV positive patients
  • smokers