Why do I have bleeding gums?
Bleeding gums is the most notorious symptom of gum disease. Gum disease itself is a popular term for the disease gingivitis and its most severe form: periodontitis.
Are bleeding gums really dangerous?
Yes. If gum disease treatment is not carried out, it can lead to tooth loss and infection in different organs of the body, including the heart and lungs, as indicated by clinical studies. Bad breath can also be caused by gum disease.
Understanding Gum Disease
Our teeth, as we know, are enclosed by gum or gingiva. What most people don’t realize though, is that where tooth and gum meet there is a naturally occurring crevice, the depth of which depends on the health status of our gums. Beyond the bottom of the crevice, there is a section of gum attached to the tooth and further there are gingival fibers and bone but we shall leave the fibers and bone for now and revisit them later. What is important to mention at this time, is that everything, in terms of gum health, begins at the entrance of this crevice or, we could also say, at the gum line.
Why is this area so important?
It is important because this area is the most susceptible to the build-up of bacterial plaque also known as dental plaque.
What is bacterial plaque?
Although it is called bacterial plaque, plaque is not formed solely by bacteria. In fact, rather surprisingly, 80% of plaque is made up of water, mostly because of the saliva produced in our mouth. Plaque however, does contain a large quantity and variety of microbes stemming from the natural flora in our mouth. Molecular-sized food debris and proteins from saliva are also components of plaque, along with anything else that comes into contact with the bacterial colony. To learn more about it follow the link –> Dental Plaque
Once plaque located close to the gum line matures, it starts to produce toxins as a by-product of bacterial digestion of sugars and other molecules. When the toxins come into contact with the healthy gum, they begin to damage the gum, which eventually becomes inflamed. Inflammation is a process through which our body sends white blood cells to defend and restore.
This stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. The battle between blood cells and bacteria/toxins is endless if plaque is not removed. Bacteria are multiplying and the blood cells are not able control the threat.
Eventually the plaque hardens because of the addition of minerals such as calcium and magnesium to its composition. That is what we know by tartar, technically named calculus. The tartar do not offer harm by itself, but they indeed increase tremendously the susceptibility of plaque recurrence as they serve as barriers to the removal of the plaque by any conventional do it at home method (brushing and flossing). It also obstructs the entrance of the crevice impeding the flushing away of wastes by crevicular fluid, creating a bad bacteria friendly environment, very acidic and without oxygen.
So more plaque is turn into tartar and the cycle repeats. Every time it repeats itself, the crevice becomes deeper and wider, as if the gums were trying to runway from the toxins, until the disease reaches the Gum fibers and bone. Now the crevice can be called pocket. At this stage the internal wall of the pocket is an open wound and bacteria can invade the tissues and spread through the system via blood vessel causing infection in different organs. In this level the gum disease is called periodontitis. When the infection reaches the bone, it destroys it and if not treated one can lose as many teeth as there are involved in the disease.
No bone no tooth!
Different conditions can influence inflammation response and therefore gum disease: