Tags Posts tagged with "Periodontitis"

Periodontitis

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Gums Bleeding When Flossing
©Kurhan/Shutterstock.com

If you got up from the computer right now and went over to the sink to wash your hands, would you expect them to bleed as  you wash them?

Your Hands Don't Bleed When You Wash ThemIf your hands did start bleeding all over while you were washing them, you’d probably be quite worried.  However, many people simply think it’s alright to get bleeding gums while they brush and floss.

The title of this post asks the question, Is it normal to get bleeding gums when brushing and flossing? The fact of the matter is that while it may be normal (as in it happens to a lot of people) to get bleeding gums, it’s certainly not healthy to get bleeding gums when brushing and flossing.

Why People’s Gums Bleed During Brushing and Flossing

The most common reason that people get bleeding gums when brushing and flossing is because they have plaque that has gotten down between their gums and their teeth that irritates their gums.

To visualize the area between the gums and teeth where this plaque accumulates, read about The Anatomy of a Tooth.  To find out more about what plaque is, read What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque.

As the bacteria start accumulating between your teeth and your gums, it irritates the gums and causes the gums to become red and inflamed to try to fight off the bacteria.

The textbook Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology states that “The presence of plaque for only two days can initiate gingival bleeding.” That means that if you neglect brushing or flossing for just two days, it could cause your gums to start bleeding when you begin brushing and flossing.

It is important to note that there are some other reasons that you can get bleeding gums, such as brushing too hard, taking certain medications, or certain systemic conditions.  I’ll talk about those in a future post.  For this article, I am focusing on plaque accumulation, since it is the main reason that patients get bleeding gums.

Bleeding Gums Treatment: How to Make antibiotics Your Gums Stop Bleeding

The only way to get your gums to return to health is to remove the source of the irritation, which is the plaque.  You can do this by brushing and flossing.

Unfortunately, many people stop brushing or flossing when they notice that their gums are bleeding because they assume that they are hurting their gums.  While brushing and flossing too rigorously can hurt your gums, chances are that there is bacteria down between your gums and your teeth that needs to be removed.  Not flossing because your gums bleed will only make the problem worse and could lead you down the path to periodontal disease.

Once you start improving your oral hygiene, your gums should stop bleeding.  The textbook Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology also says, “It may take seven days or more after continued plaque control and treatment to eliminate gingival bleeding.”  That means that your gums should return to health after about a week or so of practicing a good brushing and flossing routine.

If your gums constantly bleed when you brush and floss and it doesn’t go away after a week or so of good oral hygiene, it could be a sign of something more serious and you should ask your doctor or dentist about it.

Conclusion

It is not healthy to have bleeding gums when brushing and flossing.  By brushing and flossing, you can remove the plaque that accumulates between your gums and your teeth, and cause your gums to return to their healthy, pink, non-bleeding state.  It’s a good idea to consult your dentist/dental hygienist to see if you are in need of a deeper gum cleaning (scaling and root planing) to help remove the plaque that has accumulated underneath your gum-line.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about bleeding gums?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer any questions that you may have.  Thanks for reading!

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Tongue Piercing with Needle
©Charles Knox/Shutterstock.com

I remember vividly a lecture that I had last year in one of my pediatric dentistry classes.  My professor told us a story about how she went down to one of the local piercing parlors and asked if she could take pictures of a tongue piercing.  They let her take some pictures and she showed them to our class.

She commented that if parents actually knew what happens when their kid gets their tongue pierced, there would be a lot less pierced tongues.

I debated about whether or not I should put an image of an actual tongue piercing in this article, but I think it may be too graphic for some people.  If you’d like to see what a tongue looks like as it’s getting pierced with a needle, you can see a photo with an explanation by clicking here.

Keep in mind that there are many risks with piercing your tongue, so I would advise against getting your tongue pierced.  In this article, I’ll simply focus on the process of getting your tongue pierced.

Tongue Piercing Procedure

The Tongue Piercing Procedure

First of all, the person piercing your tongue will use a marker to mark the spot on the taste-bud side of the tongue where the piercing will be.  If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see a dark blue mark where the ring enters the tongue.

Next, the piercer will hold onto your tongue with some sort of a clamp so that it doesn’t move when it is pierced.  If the tongue moves and the needle goes through the wrong part, it could hit a blood vessel or cause damage to a nerve.

As they are holding onto the tongue, the piercer will stick a thick needle through your tongue without using any anesthetic.  (See a picture of this here – not for the faint of heart!)  Some people say this hurts, others say that as long as you find the right person to pierce your tongue, it shouldn’t hurt.  Since piercers are not licensed medical professionals, they are not permitted to give you any anesthetic to numb your tongue and prevent you from feeling pain.

Then, the piercer will put a long barbell through the hole that was made in the tongue.  Usually the barbell is 18 millimeters (about ¾ inch) long.  The initial barbell needs to be long because your tongue will swell a lot after the piercing.  If a short barbell is used, the tongue could swell around it and trap the barbell inside the tongue.  If this occurs, surgery will be needed to remove the barbell from the tongue.

If your tongue piercing is done in a clean, sanitary environment and doesn’t become infected., the initial 18 mm barbell can be replaced with a shorter barbell.

Conclusion

After your tongue has been pierced, you must leave the barbell in place or the hole can close up.  It can be removed for very brief periods of time without this occurring but there is always a risk.  It’s a good idea to remove any tongue jewelry when you’re playing sports so that you don’t damage your teeth.

Do you have any stories or experiences with tongue piercing?  I’d love to hear about your stories, questions and comments in the comments section below!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Piercing.jpg

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Dental Tartar and Calculus
©Lighthunter/Shutterstock.com

Earlier this week, one of my friends told me a joke that made me groan. She asked, “What is a dentist’s favorite subject in high school?”  I told her I didn’t know, and then she blurted out “Calculus!”

Sorry.

So what exactly is calculus?  Calculus, commonly known as tartar (as in tartar-control toothpaste) is plaque that has hardened.  In the picture below, the calculus looks like a thick, creamy coating sticking to the teeth between the teeth and the gums.

Tartar / Calculus

Here’s two other photos of the same mouth shown in the photo at the top of this article.  Before a dental cleaning:

Dental Tartar and Calculus Before Cleaning
©Lighthunter/Shutterstock.com

And the same set of teeth after a good scraping by the hygienist:

Dental Tartar and Calculus After Dental Cleaning
©Lighthunter/Shutterstock.com

What Is Tartar / Calculus?

Tartar and calculus are the same thing.  Tartar is the more common term and most dentists and dental hygienists will call it calculus.  No matter what you call it, tartar is simply plaque that has sat on your teeth for a while and hardened.

A while back, I talked about how saliva helps our teeth by repairing teeth with calcium to undo the damage done by eating sugar.  Unfortunately, that same calcium can get incorporated into plaque, turning it into hard tartar.

The book Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology describes calculus by saying, “It is usually white or whitish yellow in color, hard with claylike consistency, and easily detached from the tooth surface.  After removal, it may rapidly recur, especially in the lingual area of the mandibular incisors.  The color is influenced by contact with such substances as tobacco and food pigments.”

Where Is Tartar Usually Found?

Tartar can be found on any tooth surface and even below the gumline.  A common hideout is on the tongue side of your lower front teeth.  The salivary glands under your tongue put out a lot of calcium, which helps the plaque harden into tartar rather quickly.

How Can You Prevent Calculus and Tartar from Forming In Your Mouth?

The best way to prevent calculus from forming is by brushing twice a day and flossing.  The book Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology says that plaque can start to mineralize (the process that helps it turn into tartar) in as little as a couple of hours!

How Is Calculus Removed from Teeth?

Once plaque has hardened into calclulus, you need to have it removed by a dental professional.  Your dentist or dental hygienist removes calculus using metal instruments or with an ultrasonic dental instrument.

It’s important to visit your dentist regularly so you can get any calculus or tartar build-up removed.

What Happens If You Never Get Calculus Removed From Your Teeth?

If you don’t go to the dentist to get calculus removed from your teeth it can start to irritate your gums and over time may cause periodontal disease, a major cause of tooth loss.  If you look again at the picture above, you can see that the patient’s gums appear to be falling down, because they are irritated from all of the tartar.

Chances are that if you have calculus visible on your teeth then there is also some below the gumline.  It’s important to see your dentist so that you can keep your teeth clean and free of periodontal disease.

Conclusion

In summary, bacteria cling to your teeth and grow, forming plaque.  If you don’t remove the plaque by brushing and flossing, it can get hard and turn into mineralized plaque known as tartar or calculus.

If you don’t get it cleaned off, tartar can irritate your gums, contributing to periodontal disease.

If you have any questions, comments, or good jokes to share about tartar or calculus, feel free to leave them below in the comments section.  Thanks for reading!

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Gum Disease Leads to Tooth Loss
©Kninwong/Shutterstock.com

Man Asking About Tooth LossIf someone asked you what the #1 cause of tooth loss is in people over age 35, what would you guess?

If you’re like most people, you would probably guess that it’s cavities.

Unfortunately…you’d be wrong.

It is generally accepted that the leading cause of tooth loss in people over 35 is periodontitis, more commonly known as gum disease.  In people under 35, cavities are the leading cause of tooth loss.

Teeth are normally held firmly in place under your gums by a strong bone called alveolar bone.

Gum Disease Can Cause You To Lose Your Teeth
©Jun Kawaguchi/Shutterstock.com

You Can Lose Teeth That Are In Perfect Condition

If you’ve brushed your teeth every day of your life and kept them in perfect condition with no cavities, but you’ve never flossed then you might be in trouble.  There are many people who believe that brushing is enough.  But while they are preventing cavities, their lack of flossing is causing other unseen effects on their gums.

Over the years, a lack of flossing will take its toll on your gum health.  Your gums will recede due to the constant irritation they’ve had from bacteria that hasn’t been removed by flossing.  Soon enough, your teeth begin to loosen and can even fall out if your gums are not cared for.

The x-ray below shows two teeth that have lost nearly half of the support from their bony foundation.

Periodontal Disease Associated Bone Loss
The blue lines show the level where the bone should be to provide adequate support to the teeth. The red line shows the current level of the bone. Click on the image for a larger view.

Your Gums Are the Foundation

House FoundationIn a healthy mouth, each tooth in your mouth is firmly gripped by strong, healthy alveolar bone.  Hopefully the building you’re in right now is rooted firmly in the ground by a strong foundation.

Try to imagine a beautiful home anchored firmly on top of a large hill by a strong foundation.  Let’s compare this house to a tooth.

As gingivitis progresses to periodontitis (gum disease), the bone that holds your teeth in place gradually erodes away.  This is similar to hundreds of rainstorms gradually washing away the dirt that surrounds the foundation of a house.

If enough dirt washes away, the house could eventually find itself on unstable ground and fall over.  Even if everything else on the house was in perfect condition, it could still fall.

This is the same in the mouth.  Even if you have a tooth that has never had a cavity, it can fall out due to a lack of support from the alveolar bone.

Conclusion

You now know that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in people over age 35.

One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is to floss daily.  Flossing helps dislodge the bacteria that get stuck down between your teeth and gums.  Ordinary brushing can’t remove these bacteria, only flossing can get rid of them.

Do you have any questions or comments about gum disease?  Leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.