Thursday, February 2, 2006
Dear Dr.: My gums are bleeding a lot when I brush my teeth and I've heard people talking quite a bit about gum disease. How do I know if I have it, and if I do what can be done about it?-James in Tecumseh
Dear James: If your gums are bleeding when you brush, there is a good chance that you are at some stage of gum (periodontal) disease. It does affect approximately nine out of ten adults at some point in their lives and it may not even hurt or you may not even be aware that you have it until a more advanced stage. If you notice any of the following warning signs, see your dentist ASAP:
*Red or swollen gums
*Gums that look like they have pulled away from the teeth
*Pus between the gums and teeth
*loose teeth or ones that have changed position (can make your bite feel different)
*constant bad breath
In terms of treatment, it depends on the severity of the problem. The first step after a comprehensive exam is usually to remove plaque and tartar (calculus) deposits from above and below the gum line (scaling). The root surfaces may also be smoothed (planing) to decrease the chance of future plaque attachment and also to facilitate healing and reattachment of gum tissue to the teeth. In more advanced stages of the disease deep pockets can form between your teeth and gums that may even make it difficult for your dentist to do a thorough job. In this case, and possibly before, you may be referred to a Periodontist (gum specialist) for evaluation. If you have had any of the warning signs, don't let it go any further. Allow your dentist to treat it, educate you about it and how to control it, and put you on a proper maintenance schedule. The longer you wait, the worse it will get!
Dear Dr Mady: I have so many unanswered questions when it comes to choosing oral care products like toothbrushes and toothpaste. What do you think?-a faithful reader.
Dear faithful reader: When shopping for oral care products it is extremely common for one to become confused with the great variety available on the market today. A good place to start is with recognition of a dental association seal such as ADA, ODA or CDA, on packages. Products that carry one or more of these seals include toothbrushes, toothpastes, mouthwashes, flosses, inter-dental cleaners and the list can go on.
With respect to your tooth brush, it should be replaced approximately every 3 months or sooner if the bristles appear frayed or severely worn. Always purchase a soft or ultra-soft bristle brush as the medium or hard bristle type may cause unnecessary damage or wear to both your teeth and gums. The bristles on your brush should be polished when they are made so that they are gentle on tissues. Use a size and shape that allows you to clean all surfaces of your teeth comfortably. Children may wear out their toothbrushes quicker than adults.
Shopping for floss and other related items can be even more frustrating. When it comes to floss, choose a type, whether waxed or un-waxed, that adapts the best to your teeth and gums. Waxed flosses seem to be more gentle for the most part and they are available now in thick or thin versions. As far as mouthwashes go, ones that contain antibacterial qualities are best for rinsing and gargling. Other oral cleaning devices and stimulators may be prescribed by your own dentist specifically to suit your own dental needs. Ask your dentist or hygienist what they think.
If you need any other information or have any dental questions, please e-mail Dr. Mady at firstname.lastname@example.org
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5