Daily Dental Flossing Can Decrease Gingival Bleeding

Most people have experienced gum bleeding sometime or the other in their lives. The condition can occur chronically for many days, or be a short term problem, depending on the cause. Mostly it is noticed during brushing of the teeth, or patients may complain of bleeding of gums after slightest injury to the gums or after only touching or sucking their gums. There generally is a presence of red, tender or swollen gums. Difficulty and discomfort in mastication and food intake occasionally due to pain and sensitiveness may also be experienced, but rarely. Here’s an insight into gingival bleeding and the ways in which it can be treated.

There can be numerous reasons for gingival bleeding. The more common reasons for bleeding gums can be presence of plaque (soft yellowish deposits on the teeth), and/or tartar (the hard yellowish white or brown deposits on the teeth that cannot be removed easily), or stains, or even injury due to excessive flossing of the teeth. But sometimes, it can even be a sign of a more serious condition, disease or disorder. When present, plaque, tartar or stains contain millions of bacteria which produce irritants, leading to inflammation of the gums. This inflammation (gingivitis) makes the gums more spongy, swollen, soft and susceptible to bleeding as it makes the gums weaker. This is the most common reason for gingival bleeding.

However, other reasons which may be responsible are:-

Inappropriate flossing technique, tooth picking, a blow and similar other factors may impair or traumatize gums. Sometimes certain drug interactions may also cause gum bleeding as a side effect. It may result as a side effect of taking aspirin, heparin therapy, pain killer, chemotherapy which are blood thinners. Mostly warfarin interactions with other drugs cause gums to bleed. Other dental conditions like gum diseases, trench mouth, poorly made restorations, etc. Serious medical conditions such as clotting disorders, leukemia, deficiencies of vitamins C and K may cause persistent gum bleeding. Pregnancy is another condition where gum bleeding can be experienced.

The list of excuses for not brushing or flossing is endless, but according to a new study published in the Journal of Periodontology, these are two tasks that should not be omitted from the daily hygiene routine.

Researchers found that tongue and tooth brushing in combination with dental flossing significantly decreased gingival bleeding by 38 percent after a two-week oral hygiene program. Halitosis, or bad breath, was also reduced. In the group that did not floss as part of their daily routine, gingival bleeding sites increased by almost four percent.

“Gingival bleeding and halitosis is often the first sign of poor oral hygiene that may eventually lead to further periodontal problems,” said Walter A. Bretz, DDS, PhD, Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care, New York University College of Dentistry and the mentor of the study. “A good way to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay is through at-home oral hygiene care and routine dental visits.”

“Bad breath and bleeding gums can also occur in people who routinely brush their teeth and gums,” said Kenneth A. Krebs, DMD and AAP president. “Bleeding gums can be a sign of periodontal disease, and bad breath may be from certain bacteria that have built up in the mouth. People with bleeding gums or bad breath should ask their dentist or periodontist about their periodontal health.”

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