What are Your Gums Telling You?

Oral health is something that is easy to ignore until there is a problem. When a problem arises, however, the discomfort that it causes has us looking for answers right away. Often, the issues that arise do have warning signs that can alert us to an emerging concern if we know what to look for. So, what are our teeth and gums telling us about our diet and their health? Here are some things to consider about your oral health.

Texture on Teeth and Gums

If you are feeling grit or texture on your teeth and gums throughout your day, your mouth has something to say about the foods that you’re eating and the state of your hygiene regimen. Textures found on the teeth and gums most likely point to an overgrowth of plaque bacteria in your oral cavity. Plaque bacteria is naturally occurring in the mouth but is kept in check with regular brushing and flossing and a diet low in sugars and starches. Sugars and simple carbohydrates, however, are likely to cause a flourishing of these bacteria. These bacteria consume the sugars from the foods that we eat and excrete acids in the mouth as these sugars digest. These acids have corrosive properties that attack the teeth and irritate the gums. If you are finding that this grit is found in your mouth quite frequently between meals, it may be time to evaluate your nutritional habits.

If you are consuming foods like chips, white bread and candies regularly this is likely to result in plaque overgrowth. Consider reaching for more whole foods such as fruits and vegetables and avoid consuming sweets regularly. Brushing the teeth between meals is another great way to reduce the production of acidic byproducts in the mouth and uncomfortable film. Reaching for healthier foods and increasing the frequency of brushing and flossing is likely to clear the problem up.

Bleeding While Flossing

If you are experiencing bleeding when you floss, you might think that this is an indication that the floss is irritating the tissues and should be discontinued. In fact, the opposite is true. Bleeding of the gums indicates that plaque bacteria and resulting acids are causing inflammation of the soft tissues, and you are likely to notice a reddening of the gums along with bleeding. If you are not flossing regularly, it is time to start. Manual flossing or using an irrigation tool are the only ways to effectively clean the forty percent of your tooth’s surface area that is not accessible to your toothbrush. Since this is such as significant surface area, it makes sense that many of the cavities that your dentist treats are not found on the visible surfaces of the teeth, rather, they are often found between the teeth where bacteria hides. In order to treat this condition, which is an early sign of gingivitis, we recommend an increased brushing and flossing regimen (after each meal) until the evidence of irritation has subsided.

Pain in the Jaw

Are you waking in the morning with jaw pain, temple pain, or headaches and muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders? Does your jaw click and pop when in use? If so, your teeth are likely telling you that you have developed a nighttime habit of clenching or grinding your teeth. Once this habit begins, it can be hard to stop since it is an unconscious habit. Chronic grinding can result in micro fractures along the teeth or even full cracks or breaks. Not only is it hard on the tooth’s surface, but it puts significant strain on the ligaments that anchor your tooth’s root. Addressing this concern is important for your long-term oral health.

Your dentist will best know how to treat this concern and which option is best for you. Of the treatment options available, the least invasive involves being fit for a night guard. A night guard is a custom-made dental appliance that covers a portion of the upper or lower teeth and does not allow the upper and lower arches to meet. Other options include medications that can encourage muscle relaxation and discourage unconscious grinding. Medications are most often prescribed for those patients whose grinding is causing significant discomfort including chronic headaches that do not improve since the muscles are stimulated every night. A combination of medication, night guard, relaxation techniques and massage can be helpful in overcoming this discomfort.

Being aware of the condition of your mouth is the first step in your ability to rectify the concerns. So, take your time while brushing and flossing and pay attention to how your mouth feels throughout the day. Small steps taken daily result in significant improvement of oral health over time, so be sure to reach for healthy foods wherever possible and keep up your oral care routine!

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