Spitting blood when you brush or floss your teeth is an early sign of gum disease. Yet in a recent survey by GSK, the makers of Corsodyl Ultra Clean toothpaste, almost 1 in 5 people said if they noticed blood in their spit when brushing they would ignore it. In fact, 15% of these people considered it to be normal. Dentist Dr Tina Tanna sorts the fact from the fiction and offers some expert advice on how to effectively treat and manage gum disease:
Healthy gums don’t bleed – FACT
Survey statistics show that 87% of people agreed that spitting blood when you brush is a warning sign that something may be wrong with their oral health. However, only 24% said it’s a dental condition they’re most worried about. Dr Tina Tanna says, “Healthy gums should be firm, pink and they shouldn’t bleed when you floss, brush or touch them, or when probed by your dentist or hygienist. If you see any blood when brushing, then it’s important to take action to stop it from getting progressively worse.”
Bleeding gums are caused by a build-up of plaque – FACT
Over half (57%) of people questioned knew that plaque can build-up and irritate the gums. Tina says, “Your mouth is full of bacteria, which when combined with saliva, forms a sticky film known as plaque. Plaque bacteria constantly builds-up around, on and in between your teeth and can lead to irritated and bleeding gums if not treated. Plaque is invisible, so it’s difficult to know if it’s gone. However, brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day will help remove plaque from the surfaces of teeth and flossing daily in-between will remove it from the gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach.”
Bleeding gums will go away on their own without treatment – FICTION
Tina says, “If you have bleeding gums, or any other signs of gum disease including bad breath or swollen and receding gums, then they shouldn’t be ignored. The best way to prevent bleeding gums from developing into a more advanced form of gum disease is to practise good oral hygiene. There are specialist toothpastes available that can help stop and prevent bleeding gums.”
However, awareness of such products is low with only 23% of survey respondents saying they would use a specialist toothpaste if they noticed blood in their spit when brushing.
Receding gums can’t grow back – FACT
35% of people asked said that receding gums is one of the dental conditions they are most concerned about. Tina says, “Gum recession happens when the gum surrounding the tooth wears away exposing more of the tooth’s root. Receding gums cannot grow back by themselves so once they’re gone, they’re gone unless you seek professional treatment, so it’s important to look after them. Flossing regularly and using a fluoride toothpaste can help to prevent further plaque build-up and there are treatments available from your dentist that can repair the gum and prevent further damage.”
Gum disease is not always serious – FICTION
Nearly two thirds of people (64%) correctly identified that gum disease is a progressive condition that gets worse. Tina says, “If the warning sign of blood when you spit is left untreated, then this can get worse and potentially lead to a more serious form of gum disease – periodontitis. If you don’t treat periodontitis, then the tissue that supports the teeth can be affected and can cause irreversible symptoms, such as receding gums and even tooth loss.”
I only need to see my dentist when there’s a problem – FICTION
46% of people taking part in the survey said they would see their dentist more regularly if they noticed blood in their spit when brushing. Tina says, “You should attend regular check-ups as advised by your dentist. Your dentist may spot signs of gum disease or other problems before you develop any visible symptoms, and will be able to recommend the appropriate course of treatment to prevent it from getting any worse.”
Brushing teeth too hard can cause bleeding gums – FACT
24% said that brushing too hard was the most likely cause of spitting blood when they brush. Tina says, “Brushing too hard can cause bleeding gums, but bleeding gums could also be a sign of gum disease, so always talk to your dentist if you see blood when you spit after brushing your teeth. Try switching to a soft bristled toothbrush if you are finding your current one too hard and ask your dentist or hygienist for advice on an appropriate brushing technique if needed.”
Bleeding gums only affect old people – FICTION
Tina says, “Although gum disease is more common as you get older, it can affect people of all ages. However, there are certain factors that can increase your risk of developing gum problems, including smoking, a family history of gum disease, diabetes and stress. If you are concerned, then speak to your dentist or hygienist.”
Bad breath is a sign of gum disease – FACT
Two fifths (40%) said they knew bad breath was a sign of gum disease. Tina says, “As plaque breaks down pieces of food in your mouth, it may release an unpleasant smelling gas leading to bad breath, but bad breath is also a noticeable symptom of periodontitis which should be treated immediately to avoid complications.”
If you’re suffering from bleeding gums, switching to a specialist toothpaste that is specifically formulated for people who spit blood when they brush can help.
With twice daily brushing, new Corsodyl® Ultra Clean toothpaste is clinically proven to be four times more effective than a regular toothpaste at reducing the build-up of plaque bacteria, the main cause of bleeding gums.
Its unique formulation gives it a special therapeutic taste with fluoride to help maintain strong teeth and prevent cavities, as well as sodium bicarbonate to help remove plaque and keep your mouth feeling fresh and ultra clean with twice daily brushing.
Corsodyl® Ultra Clean toothpaste (RSP £3.99 for 75 ml) is available from supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide.