Inflamed Gums? Blood When Brushing or Flossing? See Your Dentist

This article outlines signs of gum disease and the consequences of not getting treatment early.

Health Care Tips

If you notice that your gums are inflamed or you bleed when brushing or flossing, call your dentist for an appointment.  These symptoms may indicate periodontal (gum) disease.  If left untreated at the early stage, called gingivitis, the disease may progress to periodontitis — plaque and tartar build up below the gum line.  As this worsens, the space between your teeth and gums will get deeper, leading to loss of bone support for your teeth, and ultimately tooth loss.

An estimated 80% of American adults currently have some form of gum disease, which can lead to blood infections that cause heart disease.  Risk factors for periodontal disease include smoking, less than optimal dental hygiene, hormonal changes in girls/women, diabetes, stress, certain medications, certain illnesses and their treatments, and genetic susceptibility. By quitting smoking, you can improve your outcome.  Thorough daily brushing and flossing is also critical.

Although brushing and flossing will help get rid of plaque, only a professional cleaning can remove tartar.  If your condition has escalated to periodontitis, your dentist will perform a deep cleaning, called Scaling and Root Planing, to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria and smooth rough spots on the roots.  After this is performed, your dentist or periodontist will prescribe ongoing treatment (maintenance therapy) to help prevent periodontal disease from recurring.  If you are a member of the GIC Retiree Dental Plan, the schedule of benefits for periodontal treatment has increased by 7-10%, depending on service, effective July 1, 2017. Contact MetLife or see the plan handbook on the Retiree Dental Section for details.

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