Gum bleeding is a common problem that plagues hundreds of millions of people everyday. Interestingly, not everyone notices that they even have such an oral problem. One of the leading causes of gum bleeding is gingivitis.
I recall a cousin of mine who regularly complained that she had a condition called dysgeusia; an altered perception of taste. She often whined about a metal taste in her mouth or a salty taste in her mouth after eating, brushing, or flossing. Earlier this year, we finally got sick of her whining and set her up with a long overdue dental checkup.
It was just as well we did. As it turns out, my cousin Samantha was diagnosed with gingivitis; her gums were sensitive and suffered from inflammation. Sometimes, her gums even bled during meals or during flossing or brushing. The taste of salt or iron in her mouth was actually the taste of her own blood.
Looking back, I don’t understand how she could not notice gum bleeding; Sam claimed she never saw discolored spit-water after rinsing with mouthwash. She said she never saw any blood on used floss either. Still, the dentist didn’t lie. She definitely had gingivitis. The only thing she could focus on after that was dealing with the problem.
As it turns out, gingivitis is brought about by a number of risk factors which include poor oral hygiene, stress, low dental care utilization, and smoking. Sam was actually guilty of all these. The result: buildup of oral bacteria, plaque, and tartar. These in turn, lead to halitosis (also known as bad breath), discolored gums, and sensitivity and irritation when eating.
Needless to say, the dentist gave Sam a set of rules to follow in order to nurse her gums back to good health. She was given toothpaste-coated floss, a bottle of antibacterial mouthwash, and of course, reminders to brush three times a day.
While not what some people would call a medical emergency, the gravity of the situation was enough to embarrass my cousin into taking the dentist’s words to heart. The effect of the antibacterial mouthwash was instant, and alleviated most of her symptoms, most especially halitosis. With regular use, coupled with brushing, flossing, and a dental appointment every three months, the rest of the symptoms eventually subsided as well. Within months, we had gotten used to her no longer talking about her oral problems (that eventually led to better table conversation).
If I think back on the symptoms she had regularly complained about – the taste of metal in her mouth – I have to think about how common of a problem gum bleeding and gingivitis in general really is, and how often many people take such simple activities as oral hygiene for granted. Think about it: wouldn’t it be better to spend five minutes every day to make sure you look better, smell better, and present yourself better, rather than wait a few months, then spend a couple of hundred dollars to repair damage done to your mouth just so you could attain the same level of cleanliness and neatness?
Seriously. Think about it.