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Are you seeing red when you floss those pearly whites?

We’ve probably all experienced it: You brush like you always have, swish and rinse. Then you pull out a length of that innocent-looking white string and begin to floss. You’ve hardly started when you notice your drool is turning pink, then crimson. What’s going on? It’s like that flimsy little strand turned into a lethal weapon—and your gums are the victim.

To worry or not to worry

Bleeding gums are definite evidence that something’s amiss in your mouth. Assuming you’re not attacking your gums with floss like a lumberjack trying to take down a tree, it probably isn’t caused by flossing too hard.

Bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. When remnants of food, the bits you cannot reach with the bristles of your toothbrush, are left between the teeth, they quickly start to colonize and turn into a film of sticky bacteria that becomes plaque. The plaque, in turn, irritates your gums, causing inflammation and swelling.

The good news is that the condition is reversible.

Keep on flossing

When you notice your gums bleeding during flossing, you might think it’s better to quit and let your gums heal. Actually, you should do just the opposite.

Continue with gentle flossing every day, and in a week or so you should see improvement. Healthy gums don’t normally bleed. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after a period of flossing daily, make an appointment with your dentist. You could have a buildup of tartar that you’re not going to be able to brush away or some other issue with your gums.

And while you’re at the dentist’s office, it’s a good idea to check with your dental hygienist on the proper flossing technique. Incorrect flossing can lead to gums that bleed simply because you aren’t effectively removing the plaque between the surfaces of your teeth.

Other causes of bleeding while flossing

If you’re new to flossing, your gums are most likely going to bleed. Think of it like exercising. The first couple of times you work out your muscles are sore. But with time and regular workouts, the soreness (like the bleeding) disappears.

Vitamin deficiencies from poor nutrition can also cause the gums to bleed. Try to cut back on eating processed foods and nourish not only your gums but your entire body with a diet of healthier whole foods—fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, fish and dairy.

And if there weren’t already enough reasons to quit smoking, use of tobacco products negatively impacts your oral health and can contribute to bloody gums.

A healthy habit for life

According to the American Dental Association, flossing is an important part of your daily oral routine and can reduce the chance of gum disease and cavities.

But recently there’s been some discussion about the best time to floss. Before or after brushing? The strongest argument seems to support before simply because you will be more likely to do it. And if you regularly do it, you’ll have healthy gums. And that’s something to smile about.

If your gums are bleeding regularly and the above information isn’t putting your mind at ease, contact Lane and Associates Family Dentistry today to set up an appointment and let us help.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Lane & Associates!

Let’s be honest, by this time in the year people are ready to indulge in some delicious candy and sweets – especially if they have been dieting since January 1st. It’s time for a treat! But what if we could choose some candies that not only taste delicious but that our teeth will thank us for later.

 

Today got us thinking, what treats should patients avoid the most on Valentine’s Day and how can we let our patients know of some healthier alternatives? Let’s dive in!

 

Our Top 5 Treats that you should avoid on Valentine’s Day include:

1. Hard Candy

2. Chewy Candy & Dried Fruit

3. Sour Candy & Acidic Foods

4. Sugary Drinks & Alcohol

5. Caramel Popcorn

 

HARD CANDY

Generally, these candies (Jolly Ranchers, BlowPops, Werther’s) take the longest to eat and therefore have a longer amount of time exposing your teeth to sugar. The sugar coats your teeth when mixing with saliva and makes it very difficult to wash away. Since the bacteria in your mouth also feed on sugar, this begins to break down your tooth enamel. Hard candy enthusiasts also love to chew on candy which makes them vulnerable to chipping, breaking, or cracking your teeth.

 

CHEWY CANDY & DRIED FRUIT

Chewy and sticky foods (like dried fruit) aren’t good for your teeth because they stick to the surface of your teeth and are even more difficult to remove. The longer the caramel inside of a chocolate surprise sticks to your teeth, the longer your teeth are exposed to sugar that leads to tooth decay.

 

SOUR CANDY & ACIDIC FOODS

This combination is a double whammy. In one instance, sour candy has a lot of extra sugar to compensate for the sour taste but it also has a ton of acidity that is known to break down the tooth enamel.

 

SUGARY DRINKS & ALCOHOL

If you suffer from dry mouth, sugary drinks and especially alcohol will only worsen the situation. Alcohol has a lot of added sugars and will also remove the amount of saliva your produce. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense system to fight plaque and acid so try to avoid especially sweet drinks this Valentine’s Day.

 

CARAMEL POPCORN

Popcorn, as we all know, has a tendency to get stuck in between our teeth. When food is trapped in between our teeth it creates a nice place for bacteria to grow. The added combination of caramel to our popcorn is almost the worst snack that we could choose on Valentine’s Day for our teeth.

 

SO WHAT CAN I EAT THIS VALENTINE’S DAY?

Some alternative snacks to indulge that sweet tooth:

  • Sugar-free candies that contain Xylitol
  • Non-acidic fruit
  • Dark chocolate-dipped fruit
  • Fruit popsicles
  • Banana ice cream
  • Frozen grapes
  • Smoothies
  • Pudding
  • Peanut butter
  • Chocolate milk

Of course, we always encourage you to floss after indulging and rinse with mouthwash to keep your smile free of leftover plaque that sticks to your teeth.

 

Embrace your sweet tooth once more with these healthy alternatives and keep your smile looking “Be My Valentine” perfect.

 

Have more ideas for healthy Valentine’s Day alternatives? Reach out to your dentist today and let us know!