In order to create the right pH in the mouth, there needs to be less bad bacteria than good bacteria. Cosmetic dentist Angela Britt, DMD explains that we all have bad bacteria in the mouth, which produces by-products that colonize and sit on the teeth and gums, causing infection. “The pH of the saliva in the mouth affects how the bacteria exist.” Your dentist can perform a saliva test to determine the pH level of your saliva—6.5 to 7.5 pH is considered normal.
Why It Happens:
The single cause of bleeding gums is an underlying infection in them, which causes them to become inflamed. “When the gums bleed, which is most common during brushing, this signals that there is inflammation around the teeth, which may involve the supporting bone as well,” says cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS. Once the gums become irritated and swollen, they aren’t able to grip the teeth properly and the teeth become loose and decayed—sometimes the teeth even fall out. Besides bleeding, the gums may also excrete pus, which means there is a deep infection in the gums.
How To Prevent It
Like all gum problems, bleeding gums can be minimized with proper oral hygiene. “The main object is to remove the plaque daily before it hardens and turns into hard-to-remove calculus or tarter,” says Dr. Goldstein.
How To Fix It
Besides proper at-home care, your dentist can use ultrasonic tools to get at the bacteria and infection in the gums. There’s also laser surgery, which targets just the inflamed and damaged gums. “With laser surgery we use a local anesthetic and since there is no cutting, sewing or recovery, patients can go back to work that day. It can take up to one year for the gums to heal since the problem treated was underneath the gums,” says New York periodontist, Neil S. Lehrman, DDS. In cases where the tooth has started to rot away and there is bone loss, the damaged teeth may need to be removed and replaced with dental implants.
Excessive Gum Tissue
Why It Happens
Your teeth may be straight and white, but if you smile and more than two millimeters of gum show, that excessive gum tissue can take away from the overall beauty of your smile. More of a structural problem than anything else, a gummy smile, “Is nothing more than excessive gum tissue. There are several reasons why it happens, but usually it’s developmental,” says Timothy Chase. When the teeth and gums are forming in adolescence, either the teeth never came all the way down through the gums, the gums didn’t withdraw properly like they should or the entire upper jaw came down too much when it was developing.
How To Prevent It:
Since a gummy smile is the result of how the gums, teeth and structure of the mouth are formed, there is little that can be done to prevent it from occurring.
How to Fix It:
If your gums show more than one to two millimeters when you smile, your dentist may recommend removing the excess gum with a gum lift. Using a laser, the procedure carves away the extra tissue, giving the teeth more of an ideal shape. “The laser removes the tissue to expose more of the crown to even out the height of the tissue,” says Dr. Britt. Some patients require more extensive reduction of the tissue. For these cases, a crown lengthening procedure can be performed where the tissue around each individual tooth is contoured by lifting the tissue up and placing it higher on the bone.
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