Sensitive teeth aren’t necessarily an indication of an underlying oral health problem, although it may be caused by an infection in the pulp of your tooth, damaged tooth enamel, or chips, fractures, and cracks caused by a TMJ disorder or tooth grinding. Unlike sensitive teeth, sensitivity in your gums is usually attributable to oral infections, such as gingivitis. Dr. Ryan Hussong, who treats sensitive gums in Polk City, IA, answers patients’ questions about the best oral care products for tender, bleeding gums.
“It hurts to floss. Help!”
Flossing between your teeth plays an important role in warding off tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing alone doesn’t remove all traces of leftover food and bacteria from your teeth. If sensitivity prevents you from flossing thoroughly, you may actually force plaque and bacteria downward beneath the gum line where it can do even more damage. Believe it or not, you have several types of dental floss from which to choose. Many patients find that softer floss and dental tape remove debris and stimulates the gums more comfortably than unwaxed, threadlike products. Floss at least once daily, or more frequently as directed.
“My gums bleed when I brush. What do I do?”
Dr. Hussong notes that although brushing may cause slight discomfort, the problem becomes worse if you brush less thoroughly or less frequently. Seeing blood on your toothbrush is enough to cause anyone alarm, but a bit of blood is nothing compared to the consequences of living with multiple missing teeth. Bleeding gums, the most recognizable symptom of gingivitis, are an indication that you have an infection in your gum tissue. Intensive cleaning and even antibiotics may be required to treat the infection and prevent irreversible damage. Avoid brushing your teeth with a hard-bristled toothbrush, which can damage tooth enamel and unnecessarily irritate your already sensitive gums.
“Mouthwash burns my sensitive gums. Recommendations?”
If your mouthwash burns or stings your mouth, alcohol is the most likely culprit. Oral care products that contain alcohol often have a sharp, almost acrid flavor. Unfortunately, alcohol also tends to have a drying effect on oral tissues. Mouthwash manufacturers include alcohol as an ingredient to deliver a quick antiseptic hit. Unfortunately, many dentists now question the effectiveness and safety of alcohol-containing mouthwash. Instead, substitute antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwashes, which help combat the bacteria that contribute to periodontal infections.
In addition to an excellent oral hygiene regimen, scheduling professional cleanings and dental exams every six months helps you to avoid serious gum infections and periodontal disease. If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, you may require more frequent dental visits to prevent the disease from progressing.
Brushing and flossing shouldn’t be painful. To learn more about oral care products, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Grimes, Ames, Alleman, West Des Moines, and the 50226 zip code. You can also find us on Facebook, where we share the latest news and events from our Polk City dental office.