Gingivitis, Periodontitis And Bleeding Gums

Bleeding Gums don’t matter right?  What if every time you brushed your hair there was blood on the hairbrush; most of us would be running to the doctor faster than we’ve ever run before.

Bleeding Gums are an indication of local infection, called gingivitis.  Left untreated the infection can spread into the jaw bone around the teeth (a disease called periodontitis) causing wobbly, sensitive and painful teeth. The good news is bleeding gums are easy to treat.

Bleeding Gums (periodontitis) can be a serious health concern in people with diabetes, heart disease and other chronic disease.

Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive Teeth

There are many causes of sensitive teeth, the most common are:

  • Dental decay
  • Gum disease exposing the exposed root surface of the teeth
  • Dental erosion
  • Cracked tooth
  • Scrubbing too hard, a toothbrush that is too hard, or using whitening toothpaste.

The most common solution is to switch to using a sensitive toothpaste, and also a soft or ultra-soft brush. Because tooth sensitivity can indicate dental disease it’s always a good idea to consult with your dentist to make sure you don’t have an underlying dental problem causing the sensitivity.

Teeth Grinding

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding or clenching, most commonly occurs whilst sleeping.  You may have heard someone else in your house grinding their teeth through the night it can be particularly disconcerting especially in children.

Long term it can lead to all sorts of problems, such as:

  • Worn teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Cracked teeth or broken fillings
  • Jaw joint pain, damage and stiffness
  • Facial muscle pain, headaches and earaches

What Causes It?

Often triggered by stress.

How To Treat It?

If it’s caused by stress, sometime no treatment is needed at all as it disappears on its own accord as the situation resolves.

In children, it can relate to a particularly stage of development in which the adenoids and tonsils enlarge causing partial airway obstruction.  It is thought, that grinding promotes tension through the airway to help the child sleep.  It is also possible that this same pattern occurs in adults, and some consider it to be a pre-sleep apnoea indication.

Wearing A Protective Bite Splint

A bite splint can protect the teeth and prevent some of the side effects of grinding.  Bite splints are custom made and fit snugly over the top teeth while you sleep.  It has a smooth biting surface to prevent the teeth from locking together. It also provides a space to slightly stretch the jaw muscles and relieve pressure on the jaw joint. So if you do grind your teeth can slide over it harmlessly.


Often a referral to neck and jaw physiotherapist will also be helpful to correct and local muscle imbalances and provide acute pain relief.

Addressing The Stress – Relaxation Therapy

It’s not always possible, but sometimes the best way to address tooth grinding is to learn to relax.  Whether it is regular exercise, yoga, meditation, or simply taking some time out.

Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay

Unlike bones, teeth can’t fix themselves.  Tooth decay is caused by plaque.  Plaque is a combination of:

  • food stuck on the teeth
  • bacteria, which eat the food and turn it into acid, which rots the tooth

Not all bacterias cause tooth decay. The bacteria that can cause tooth decay are simple sugars. They like to live in an acidic environment, which we can accidently create for them by drinking delicious things like juice, soft drink, wine, etc. with too much frequency.

Preventing tooth decay is as simple as brushing and flossing regularly.  The most important time to brush is just before sleeping at night, as our bodies natural protection against tooth decay (our saliva) turns off while we sleep.

Decay left untreated can lead to root canal infection.

Bad Breath

Bad Breath

If you had bad breath, your friends would tell you wouldn’t they?  It can be a difficult topic to broach.

The main cause of bad breath are bacteria, particularly the bacteria that live along the gum line and often cause gingivitis and periodontitis.  Often the bacteria are attached to the tooth just below the gum line, making it impossible to remove them with just a toothbrush.  The smell is often a result of the bacteria infecting into the gum, resulting in a rotting or decaying odour.

Most people who have bad breath can resolve the problem easily, by having their teeth professionally cleaned and being shown how to keep them clean more effectively. Once the bacteria are removed, the gum heals and the problem resolves.
Tongue scrapers, mouthwash and trying a different toothpaste can also be of benefit after a professional clean, but tend to have little effect without it.

Not all bad breath is caused by gum infection.  A post-nasal drip, chronic sinusitis or a variation in diet can also be contributing factors.  If good oral hygiene doesn’t resolve bad breath, sometimes a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon is warranted to investigate other solutions.