SORE GUMS!!! When the pink stuff in your mouth is swollen, sore and screaming at you, let's face it - you can't even think straight...
Welcome back to another Tooth Minute Tuesday (actually posted on Tuesday this time - how wonderful!). Today we’re talking ‘bout SORE GUMS and what could cause such a thing! Because of the complexity of the topic, we’ll be breaking this down into three episodes. For Part 2 and 3, make sure to tune in next week, and next next week :) For those of you who have sore gums right now, I know you want to get to the bottom of it, so let’s hop right in!
CAUSE #1 - GUM DISEASE
Jaw bone destruction and the resulting receding gums happens because of your immune system, not bacteria. Think of it this way - there is constant warfare between bacteria and your immune system, and your gums are the battle ground. Your immune system has the big guns, and will bombard the bacteria with everything they’ve got. That’s bad news, because the battleground (again - your gums) gets ripped apart from the bombardment. As the battleground gets more craters in it from all the bombs dropped by your immune system, the bacteria have more places to hide, and their army becomes more diverse. These craters are called pockets - these are crevasses between your gums and teeth. When they get deep enough, you can’t physically clean them out without professional hygiene therapy; they essentially act as fortifications for the bacteria. Your immune system has to unleash even more weaponry (i.e. inflammation) to try and hold off the better defended bacteria, and a vicious cycle ensues. With time, the army (i.e. biofilm) of bacteria become increasingly complex. Just as a military force with a navy, airforce, infantry and tank division is more difficult to conquer than one with just ground soldiers, so are complex bacterial armies more difficult to deal with than a simple bacteria biofilm. With so much warfare going on, your gums can become EXTREMELY sore.
While you can’t predictably cure gum disease or the past destruction of the gum and bone, you can eliminate or at least minimize the inflammation. Often times doing this slows or stops the progression of the disease. For people who already have those pockets (i.e. the fortresses that bacteria hide in, remember?) we talked about earlier, something like a Water flosser is a really good option because it can flush a lot of bacteria and inflammatory byproducts out of the area. On top of that, having your teeth professionally cleaned every 3-4 months, depending on your gum health, will essentially knock out one of the two sides engaged in warfare: the bacteria. If there are no bacteria kicking around, there’s no reason for your immune system to throw a hissy fit and nuke your gums.
If your sore gums are happening everywhere throughout your mouth, here are your THREE ACTION STEPS:
1) Get diagnosed by a dentist - you may have periodontal disease
2) Make sure to have your teeth cleaned every 3-4 months if you have active periodontal disease! Getting them cleaned only once or twice a year will not “wipe out one army from the battle” often enough, and the ongoing warfare will continue to destroy your gum and bone.
3) Add a water flosser, and, if combined with step 2, the soreness will more often than not go away if gum disease is the true cause. The best place to buy water flossers is probably the pharmacies. They may be the cheapest there. Also check amazon! Waterpik is the only brand I’m familiar with, but there may be others as well.
I am NOT paid for you to use this link, just want to show you guys an example of what they look like! --> https://www.amazon.ca/Waterpik-WP-660-Aquarius-Professional-Flosser/dp/B00HFQQ0VU/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1539745449&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=waterpik&psc=1
Next week we’ll be exploring how sore gums can actually have their cause “rooted” in a tooth problem ;)
Hope this helped! If you liked this blogpost, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel! It’s fun, entertaining and the best dental edutainment around! —> www.youtube.com/michaelthedentist
-Michael the Dentist
Dr. Michael Wenzel is a Dentist, Filmmaker and Aspiring YouTuber from Medicine Hat, Alberta. Michael loves technology and practices dentistry exclusively through surgical operating microscopes. He and his wife Natalia own a wedding photography and filmmaking company named Follow the Hope.