I am 19 years old and my gums bleed when I brush. I read online that it could be because of dental plaque and tartar. What is dental plaque? What should I do to prevent bleeding?
Plaque is a biofilm, meaning collection of microorganism (bacteria) in an organized fluid forming a thin layer of film over teeth and oral surfaces. Plaque is constantly forming on teeth. If it is not cleaned by brushing, particularly in the difficult to reach areas such as between teeth, at the back of the mouth and near the gum-line, it hardens to form tartar (calculus). Tartar irritates gums and causes inflammation and consequently bleeding. Since tartar cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing you need cleaning by professionals such as dental hygienists, dentists or in severe case a specialist (periodontist).
How frequently should I visit the dentist?
Removal of plaque with brushing and flossing on a twice daily basis and removal of tartar by a dentist and dental hygienist is the first step towards oral health. By the time teeth problem begins to hurt, it may be too late. Seeing a dentist regularly can help prevent this and many other problems. Under normal circumstances, we ask our patients to visit every 6 months but some may require visit more frequently like every 3 months depending upon oral health status.
My father has heart disease. His dentist has told him to keep good oral health. Are heart diseases related to dental health related?
Yes, heart diseases and oral health are related. Bacteria found in dental plaque release chemicals that are toxic and irritate the gums. Gradually, these bacteria cause the underlying bone around the teeth to be destroyed, a condition known as gum disease. Study shows that professional teeth cleaning (scaling) is linked to lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Recent research suggests that gum disease is linked to other health problems including heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and some pregnancy complications such as preterm delivery, low birth weight.
DrSujaya Gupta is Periodontist at Kantipur General & Dental Hospital, Basundhara, Kathmandu