Bleeding gums are never something to take lightly. In fact, it is one of the most identifiable signs of periodontal disease (gum disease). If left untreated, you could be faced with various oral and health-related conditions and problems. So, what should you do if you notice the signs? As the world battles a current pandemic, COVID-19, let a dentist explain when you should treat your problem at home and when to seek the help of a licensed professional.
WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?
Gum disease is an infection that attacks the soft tissues of your mouth and causes your gums to become red, inflamed, and even bleed while flossing or brushing. As plaque and tartar spread around your teeth and gum line, it can begin as gingivitis and quickly escalate to periodontitis. As a result, you might experience bone and tooth loss as well as the potential for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, and more.
AT-HOME OR IN-OFFICE CARE: WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
The moment you begin to notice the signs of gum disease, it’s time to act. If caught in the early stages, you can reverse the symptoms with proper at-home care. Some helpful include:
- Practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily for two minutes and flossing at least once a day to remove plaque and tartar around the gum line.
- Rinse your mouth with hydrogen peroxide, as this will remove plaque and encourage better gum health as well as stop the bleeding.
- Quit smoking. This bad habit weakens your immune system, making it harder to fight off the infection that causes gum disease.
- Find ways to relax. Too much stress harms your immune system, so take walks, read a book, or enjoy a long, hot bath.
- Take Vitamin C to help fight off gum disease and other infections. Carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes, and red peppers are all great sources of Vitamin C.
- Increase your daily consumption of Vitamin K. This will reduce bleeding and help your blood to clot. Spinach, Kale, and other greens are great sources of Vitamin K.
- Use a cold compress if your bleeding gums are the result of an injury or accident. This will reduce swelling and help restrict blood flow.
Eating fewer carbohydrates, drinking green tea, and rinsing your mouth with saltwater can help in reducing bacteria in your mouth and stop bleeding gums.
But when does gum disease warrant seeing an emergency dentist? It can be difficult trying to determine when to seek help, especially when trying to practice social distancing because of COVID-19. While most dentist’s offices are closed and seeing only patients with serious injuries, it is best if you call your dentist when your symptoms do not improve within 7-10 days. At this point, it may be necessary to undergo a deep cleaning procedure to remove the harmful plaque and tartar.
Just because the world is facing a new “normal” for now doesn’t mean your oral health should take a backseat. If at-home care isn’t enough to combat the infection that is causing your gum disease, call your dentist and request an appointment. Their dental team will work to get you the help you need, so you can enjoy a healthier smile.