Do you see blood when you rinse your mouth after brushing your teeth? Is there blood on the string when you floss? Do your gums hurt when you floss?
These are all signs of gingivitis, also known as periodontal disease, a health condition that, if not properly treated, can ultimately lead to tooth loss from the destruction of tissue surrounding your teeth.
I am not a dentist, but I did suffer from all the symptoms listed above and I was able to make them all disappear. Here's how I did it.
FLOSS AFTER YOU EAT
I started flossing regularly. I didn't only floss after every meal, I flossed after every single time I ate. That includes snacks.
"That's a pain in the tukus!" you say. Yes it was. But it was necessary, and an interesting side effect was that I snacked less often. Whenever I wanted to munch I asked myself whether the treat was worth having to floss again. Often it wasn't.
When I told my dental hygienist my gums were bleeding, she showed me how to floss properly. You don't just pull the string between your teeth and then pull it out again; you pull it back and forth between the tooth and the gum, on both sides of each tooth, and go as deep as you can. I did that five times on each side of each tooth.
Be careful not to floss too hard and cut the gum.
USE AN ANTISEPTIC MOUTH RINSE
My dental hygienist recommended I rinse my mouth with Listerine at least once a day, preferably right before I go to bed. For good measure, I rinsed after every meal, for thirty seconds each time, then didn't eat or drink for thirty minutes afterward. This allows the antiseptic liquid to kill all the bacteria in your mouth, including the bad ones rotting your gums.
Because I'm on a budget I didn't use Listerine, but bought a generic equivalent (much cheaper). All the generics I bought, from Walgreens, Shoprite and Wal-mart, worked just fine.
USE AN ANTI-GINGIVITIS TOOTHPASTE
My dental hygienist also recommended I use Colgate Total, a toothpaste with an anti-gingivitis formula. I couldn't find a generic equivalent, so I shelled out the extra cash and brushed religiously with it. I do believe Crest now has an equivalent product, Pro-Health, so you might want to check that out if you want an alternative.
GET MORE SLEEP
One of the reasons my gums were sensitive and prone to bacterial infection was because I was under a lot of stress, my dental hygienist told me. My wife had given birth to triplet boys six months before and we hadn't experienced a full night's sleep since they had come home from the neo-natal ICU.
It was imperative that I got more sleep, my dental hygienist told me, otherwise my gums wouldn't heal. So I started going to bed early and slept while they napped during the day (I'm a stay-at-home dad).
The end result? Six months later, at my next dentist's appointment, my dental hygienist was pleased to find that all my bleeding had cleared up. She flossed my gums and there was nary a drop of blood to be seen.