How to fix my gums
August 15, 2012 4:41 AM   Subscribe

My gums appear to be falling apart. Is there ANYTHING I can do about them before I get scolded by my dentist? Tell me about the time you fixed your gums on your own.

My gums are a bloody mess. I can feel them inflamed up/separating from my teeth where they meet against the roof of my mouth. They bleed sometimes when I eat, but after I brush you'd basically think I performed surgery - when I spit its almost entirely red. This has been going on for about 3 weeks. I am pretty sure its gingivitis and especially worried it is periodontitis.

I always felt I took average care of my teeth - I brush once in the morning really well and gently along my gumline, and at night I might do a crappier, rushed job. Sometimes I end up skipping a morning/night on the weekends if I crash at a friends house after a night out. I do not floss regularly. I realize this is not prime dental care but had no clue it would lead to this.

I plan on scheduling an appointment with my dentist about this, but I want to know if there is ANYTHING at all I can do to reverse this before I get a lecture about it? Is this even reversible? I bought those little floss picks and started flossing every night very deeply an carefully, but I don't feel like I'm actually cleaning anything - there's no plaque coming up, just lots and lots of blood.

Keep in mind that I am already scheduling an appt with a dentist. I'd like to know what else I can do, before I see him. Is this even reversible?
posted by windbox to Health & Fitness (55 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Flossing. This exactly what happens when you don't floss. Just floss. Every day. That is the only thing that is causing your gums to bleed. For the love of god, floss!
posted by molecicco at 4:44 AM on August 15, 2012

Or, maybe more helpfully put: before visiting your dentist, make sure to floss every day, for at least four days straight. It helps to use Listerine (not a noname knock off, but the brand Listerine) AFTER flossing. Don't worry about brushing so much, you could actually be damaging your enamel! Good luck.
posted by molecicco at 4:45 AM on August 15, 2012

Hey, I get to be the first to recommend sonicare! Using a sonicare toothbrush has made a big difference in my gum health.
posted by rockindata at 4:46 AM on August 15, 2012 [11 favorites]

Also, use regular floss. Go in below the gumline. Plaque is not the issue. You have an infection in the gums. By flossing under the gumline, you remove some of the bacteria. By using Listerine you help to kill what's left. It is reversible!
posted by molecicco at 4:52 AM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am not a dentist. I may be a crackpot (hard to say) but.. In the past, before I got really into taking good care of my mouth, the process I used for flossing was somewhat different from what's normally done.

I start by brushing my teeth thoroughly to remove as much gunk as possible (food particles and whatnot). Then I floss, carefully and thoroughly, stopping to rinse as often as needed. When I'm finished flossing, I brush my teeth again (gently, but thoroughly) and follow it up with a very mild antibacterial mouthwash.

My theory on this is that when your gums are already inflamed and angry, flossing can push more bacteria into your gums and make them angrier. If you brush first, you're eliminating some of that. Brushing again, after flossing, helps make sure that whatever you flossed out is also getting removed from your teeth and gums. The antibacterial mouth wash, to me, is a bit like treating a wound and making sure it's very, very clean.

I have healthy gums and teeth now - so I skip the mouthwash but still do the 2-step brushing.
posted by VioletU at 4:53 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

No, there is nothing you can do to make it better before seeing a dentist. Anything you do now is just establishing a pattern of regular dental care that you will need to continue daily for the rest of your life. The time to do something to make it better was before it got to this point.

I'm sorry if that's harsh, but you really, really must see a dentist about this for things to improve. There's no at-home remedy at this stage.
posted by phunniemee at 4:55 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Listerine (liquid, not those weird strips that dissolve in your mouth) twice a day, every day. It might sting at first, but keep at it. Your dentist can give you a prescription for something stronger (Chlorhexidine), but that's not available without prescription.

I've had a dentist specify the yellow Listerine (yuck flavor, not the minty ones), and I've posted that here before. Another person asked why the yellow one, and I don't know but I'll add it here, too, in case it helps you.
posted by Houstonian at 4:58 AM on August 15, 2012

This is reversible, don't worry. I had something very similar some years ago. I had a procedure done at the dentist to scrape off all the plaque - it was very intensive and needed to be done in stages over a couple of days.

So yes, of course, you MUST floss (you MUST!!!!), brush your teeth regularly and use mouthwash to kill off the bacteria - but this will only prevent the disease from occurring. Once you HAVE gum disease, you must see a dentist so that they can take any necessary action.
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:58 AM on August 15, 2012

I always felt I took average care of my teeth

You probably did, but you may not have average teeth / mouth chemistry. Don't take this situation personally; disease isn't punishment.
posted by jon1270 at 4:59 AM on August 15, 2012 [18 favorites]

I had pretty bad gums years ago ; they healed up after a regular regimem of brushing, flossing, water-pik and then applying a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to the gumline and letting it sit on there several minutes. Also visited the hygienist every 3 months. Good luck!
posted by coldhotel at 4:59 AM on August 15, 2012

Start flossing now. It's not going to fix much, but you need to start.

You need to go to the dentist -- the dentist is going to probably give you a special mouth wash to deal with your inflamed gums. It's going to be hardcore, but I promise you: if you follow the instructions, it will help. You are also probably going to have to endure a deep cleaning. It is not fun. It is the opposite of fun. But it's how the dentist resets gums to zero, more or less.

You should also be very upfront with your dentist, "Hi, I know this is a mess -- I feel terrible. I'm looking for solutions, not scolding." Most dentists, I've learned, are really nice -- they know people are afraid of them, but sometimes you do end up with a scolder. Just be an adult, set your limits, and establish a partnership aimed toward improving your teeth.

I was, for 37.5 years, a non-flosser. I had at least 3-4 separate deep cleanings over 10 years as I refused to floss. And then, almost two years ago, I just started to floss. And I've been flossing ever since. Within six months, it literally changed my gum health -- my checkup was awesome.

Also: try the Reach flosser. So much better than cutting off your finger circulation with regular floss.

Be brave. You can do this.
posted by gsh at 5:01 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

(Also, don't feel embarrassed about going to the dentist with this problem. Unless they are still in dentistry school and you are their very first patient, they've seen this problem before. And they know all about people's reluctance to floss. But do go, because... well, my dad had a severe problem with this and it got down to cauterizing. You do not want that.)
posted by Houstonian at 5:01 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Actually, you should wait until you've talked to your dentist. If it's as bad as you say, you likely have plaque buildup in pockets deep below the gumline. This will have to be removed manually by a pro; it's called something AWFUL* and they often do it in two sessions--but you'll be all numbed up and I've been through it and it's really not bad at all and a huge relief! Anyway: in order to get down deep it's easier if your gums aren't all tight like they're supposed to be. And you can't tighten up the gums overtop of the buildup and just seal it in. Getting your gums back in shape will be a bit of a process but will be worth it! Better mouth and all body health for the rest of your life.

*root planing and scaling or something eeew but just call it Super Really Good Thorough Cleaning in your head
posted by mimi at 5:02 AM on August 15, 2012

Waterpik! Waterpik! WATERPIK! I can't stress this enough. I have the worst gums ever (and have had problems with them my whole life). I also have braces right now. Food stuck in braces all day + my gums = disaster. Inflamed, red, bloody, painful. My dentist/orthodontist both told me to get a water-pik. I did and it's amazing. It's helping a lot. I still have the braces on, so the gums are still inflamed in certain areas, but I no longer bleed, and some areas have completely cleared up. And I can't wait until the braces come off because I know they'll only get better after that. Going to get a cleaning no longer hurts either.

Use it after you eat, if you can. When I first got it I would use it 3 times a day, now I use it twice. You can use mouthwash instead of water (or, well, dilute it with water). I have this model and it's great.
posted by carmel at 5:08 AM on August 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

mimi, my dentist simply called it Deep Cleaning. I've had it done, bad teeth/gums run in my family.

Are you noticing especial issues when your hormones are up or down? When I was in early pregnancy stages or taking hormones, I would bleed like crazy and my gums would be crazy tender. My dentist remarked on it once and I reminded him I'd told him about the hormone thing when I walked in.

Additionally, getting my teeth health and my underlying health looked at was a big help. You might not have scurvy (or you might - do you get enough citrus?) but I've known peeps with uncontrolled auto immune disorders who had issues until it was controlled (the auto immune issue).
posted by tilde at 5:13 AM on August 15, 2012

I use OralBreeze.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:20 AM on August 15, 2012

re: your brushing - if you're going to do one good brush and one halfassed brush, I always feel like it's better to do the good serious brush at night, and get all the day's gunk off before having your mouth closed for 8-10 hours in the bacteria-flourishing environment of sleep. Get all the crap out, do a good 60 second swish with listerine, and go to sleep clean. I don't like flossing before bed because you wake up with vampire breath. I use one of those Reach flossing stick thingies in the shower in the morning instead.

Gum disease can be genetic, and all the effort in the world can sometimes only just hold it at bay, unfortunately.
posted by elizardbits at 5:36 AM on August 15, 2012

I have an OralBreeze too, as recommended by my hygienist. I don't use it as often as I should, but it does really make a difference for healthy gums. But regardless of what you do at home, the most important thing you can do for your tooth/gum health is regular (twice yearly) dental cleanings.

I am not a dentist, just someone with a history of dental problems (the kind that means everyone in my dentist's office knows me by name) and according to my wonderful, extraordinary dental care team, the best thing you can do for yourself is go to the dentist for regular cleanings.

Floss for sure, brush regularly, but above all, get to the dentist.
posted by carolinecrane at 5:42 AM on August 15, 2012

I've managed to improve my teeth a lot over the past year. My dentist is now happy - there's still space to get better, but its much much better. Similarly to you, when I saw the hygienist and she tried to clean, my mouth felt and looked like I chewed glass. Here's what I did.

1) Floss first, then brush. I was flabbergasted to find this out - flossing removes the food particles, brushing gets them further out. Then rinse.
1b) Most important brushing time is at night. In the morning you have probably not eaten anything since last brushing so there's probably not a big problem. Evening follows 3 meals. Shift focus to the evening.

2) Is flossing hard? As in are there hard to get to gaps? Ask your dentist for special either brushes or little floss-sticks - these are awesome, and let me get to the back. Get them to show you how to floss - check its happening right.

3) Its very hard to deal with all the blood - when I saw blood when flossing even though I knew this was a symptom, my natural reaction was that I was hurting myself and so should stop. If this applies to you, be gentle with yourself and keep going. I could do this much better once I noticed each gum bleeding less.

4) Generally eating well helps.

5) Go see the dentist every 3 months.

Its very doable, best of luck.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 5:46 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dear Windbox,

Don't be so hard on yourself. Sometimes you get a disease, it happens. It doesn't make you a bad person.

You might have a gum problem that requires advanced intervention. I wouldn't be surprised if you'll see a periodontist and have antibiotic inserts.

Trying to mask a problem so your dentist doesn't scold you...that's gentle kidding right? Your dentist is your friend. (S)he only wants what's best for you. Be honest, ask questions and be prepared to do what is prescribed.

That's all anyone asks.

Take Care!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:54 AM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

You mention 3 weeks, did it start suddenly? One day you're doing your normal brushing with no problems, the next day you're doing the same brushing and blood everywhere...? I would be worried about an injury or major infection, beyond the realm of going back to good brushing and your gums will clear up.
posted by anaelith at 5:59 AM on August 15, 2012

Also: Vitamin C. My gums start to bleed after three days of no fruit and/or no multivitamins.
posted by zeek321 at 6:14 AM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't worry about being "scolded" by the dentist. This is a major reason people (including me!) avoid going to the dentist. I think it has more to do with out childhood memories than any reality of how a good dentist deals with patients. Just get a recommendation for a good dentist and follow his plan.

You may likely have some tartar buildup that is pushing your gums away from your teeth. No amount of flossing will remove that; it has to be removed by the dentist or dental assistant with the proper tools.

Even if that is not the case, whatever is going on needs professional attention. Get to the dentist asap!
posted by The Deej at 6:18 AM on August 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, all. Looks like I'm going to need to suck it up and make a dentist appointment today - I just thought there was something I could do to lesson this disaster in the coming days.

I was sorta-half joking about getting "scolded" by my dentist only because I do see him semi-regularly (twice a year) and each time he tells me to floss, and I don't. Dreading the "I told you so". But also dreading being in a WORLD OF SCRAPEY TORTURE GUM RIPPING PAIN which I feel I have somewhat brought upon myself.

Can we shift the question from "How to take better care of my gums" to "How to prepare myself for a deep cleaning"?
posted by windbox at 6:24 AM on August 15, 2012

Vitamin C and a Sonicare toothbrush. Sonicare toothbrushes are so amazing that I've given one to every member of my family for Christmas. They always think it's a strange present - until they use it. Then they're thrilled.

As far as the deep cleaning - it was uncomfortable, but not unbearably so. And I had it done at a dental school by a hamfisted student, not by a seasoned dentist with decades of experience.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:35 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good on you for making a dentist appointment!

I've had the deep cleaning done too. While it wasn't fun, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Preparation thoughts:
1. Ask your dentist how to prepare. S/he may have some tips and it's good to communicate your concerns beforehand.
2. Sometimes I find it helpful to remind myself that whatever the procedure is, it does end. It might be yucky/painful now, but that will end. If you can get a rough time estimate for the cleaning, that might help.

I now floss regularly and it makes a big difference. Flossing sticks make the act of flossing easier and HealthMonth has made remembering to floss on a consistent basis easier.

Good luck!
posted by wiskunde at 6:39 AM on August 15, 2012

Maybe I'm just not sensitive in the mouth area, but I have never had a problem with even the most invasive cleaning of my life when I saw a dentist for the first time in a decade. Sure, it's mildly painful, but only mildly, not stabby or anything like a root canal that's not going terribly well.
posted by wierdo at 6:47 AM on August 15, 2012


I recently went in for a long-neglected deep cleaning, expecting scrapey torture gum ripping pain. I was extrememly surprised, in that it did not hurt AT ALL! It was not pleasant, by any means: pressure on the teeth, the sounds of scraping reverberating in my skull, chunks of tarter flying off my teeth like concrete from a jack-hammer. But zero pain! And when it was over, I was SHOCKED at how much space there actually was between my teeth.

Obviously, I can't guarantee there will be no pain. There are too many variables. But I just want to encourage you that, like most things in life, it will very likley NOT be anything as bad as what you are imagining. And a little pain or discomfort now will set you on the road to overall better health. Tooth issues can contribute to a host of overall health issues, including high blood pressure.

Good for you for making your appointment!
posted by The Deej at 6:50 AM on August 15, 2012

Go to the dentist with courage, not shame. You are being proactive by seeking help.

Flossing is one of the most boring things I do. I have to stand there and look at myself in the mirror, doing this dumb thing. But I do it because I want to use these same teeth for another 40 years, or so.

If you are like me, you are going to need some sort of personal rewards system in order to keep up the dental care chore, night after night, week after week, etc. Figure out what will motivate you.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 6:52 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

You poor thing, I really feel for you.

The first thing is letting go of your fear and just book in asap with going to see the pro's - sooner is better and if you tell the person you book with over the phone what's going on I'm sure they'll book you in on the same day. Dentists have a duty of care and you need to allow yourself to be treated properly. Ruthless Bunny hit the nail on the head!

Wish you luck.
posted by Under the Sea at 6:59 AM on August 15, 2012

1. Salt water rinse. 10 times a day if you need to.
2. Take a small swig of hydrogen peroxide and just let it sit there at the worst spots for as long as you can - usually 30 seconds for me. Spit it out. Do not swallow. Obviously you must use the diluted kind - usually comes in 3% solutions. I would do this 2 or 3 times a day.
3. Take some fish oil supplements. I can't say enough about how helpful fish oil is for gums. Don't overdo it. Just like everything you can take too many fish oil supplements. You can overdose. And it is a blood thinner so keep that in mind.

If you do these three things they will get your gums in better shape right away while you work on a better long term plan. These three things work for me if I have a "hot spot". Works in 24 hours or less.

Ask your dentist what they think about taking an anti-anxiety med before cleaning. I took Valium for the first time before a dental procedure 2 years ago and it helped me so much I am going to always take Valium before any dental procedures even cleanings from now on. I hate going to the dentist. But Valium helps.
posted by cda at 7:00 AM on August 15, 2012

Response by poster: One more question - what is the recovery period for a deep cleaning?
posted by windbox at 7:19 AM on August 15, 2012

I was told I would be sore from a few hours to a day or so. I really wasn't sore at all.
posted by The Deej at 7:27 AM on August 15, 2012

My gums get like this when I use toothpaste containing sodium laureth sulfate (=every toothpaste brand you can buy at the supermarket). This happened suddenly, I used to be OK with standard Colgate or so. Try Squigle or Tooth Mousse (available at
posted by The Toad at 7:28 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

About, hm, twelve years ago, I went to the dentist for the first time in seven years, because i had an owie tooth. The results of that visit were that they sat me down with a thick folder that I learned contained my treatment plan, and they told me very seriously that they were pretty sure they could save all my teeth, but only if I followed their instructions to the letter. I was 25, and my gums were about in the shape that yours sound like they are in.

That treatment plan included a root canal, three crowns, seventeen fillings, and a deep cleaning. They did it all (save the root canal) at once, under something called sedation dentistry, where they gave me a large dose of sleeping pills at 6 AM and worked for eight solid hours. If you need a lot of work done, I would STRONGLY suggest this option if it's available, particularly if you have any sort of anxiety! I woke up looking like I'd been punched in the face from the inside, but by the next day I was feeling mostly OK with just a little tenderness and swelling. I'd say I was totally recovered from the deep cleaning after 2 days, 3 at the most.

The treatment plan they gave me included a Sonicare toothbrush, high-fluoride prescription toothpaste, special glide-tape floss (my teeth are very close together and normal floss can't penetrate), Clorhexidine mouthwash, Xylitol gum, and instructions to come back every three months. Long story short, I kept all my teeth and my gums are now in pretty decent shape just with daily brushing and flossing. The single thing that makes the biggest difference from day to day for me, though, is to cut sugar and starch from my diet. When I eat meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, and only moderate amounts of fruit, my gums improve very rapidly -- definitely within a week.
posted by KathrynT at 7:35 AM on August 15, 2012

Sonicare, twice a day. Mouthwash, twice a day after brushing. Floss, every day. It'll add 5 minutes to your daily schedule to the benefit of saving your teeth.

Get that deep cleaning. It is really not a big deal - there is no "recovery period". They may numb you a bit because otherwise it can hurt during the process, but you're good to eat again in a couple hours.

Start getting professional cleanings every 3 months instead of 6 until things improve. Have them to do gum irrigation each visit (which basically sprays industrial-strength mouthwash under your gumline.)

If this sounds expensive or a pain in the ass, think about losing your teeth. Last time I was at the dentist they had a guy in for a deep cleaning that waited way too long to address his problems. They were basically holding his teeth in so they wouldn't get pulled out during the cleaning. Don't do this.
posted by chundo at 7:39 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Get nitrous oxide for the procedure, it helps. Also if you have pain during the procedure tell them so you can get a local anesthetic.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:40 AM on August 15, 2012

Something you can do right away: After flossing and brushing, take a little mouthwash in a small cup, dip your toothbrush in it and then carefully go over your teeth, pushing the wet-with-mouthwash toothbrush all around your teeth, and between the teeth and gums. Keep wetting the toothbrush with mouthwash every other tooth or so. Do not rinse off or eat/drink anything for 30 minutes or so.

The first time you do this it will hurt a lot. And it might take a week or so for the bleeding and swelling to start to subside.

This is not a substitute for a dentists appointment and a cleaning - you still need one of those. What this will do is kill the bacteria that have colonized your teeth and gums and prevent the disease from getting worse.
posted by Arthur Dent at 7:43 AM on August 15, 2012

Nth'ing sonicare toothbrush. According to my sister-in-law who is a dental hygienist brushing with nearly any motorized toothbrush is better than doing it manually. The problem most people have is that they don't use the right technique to brush their teeth. She tried to get me to do it and it was really hard and a big PITA. The Sonicare will brush your teeth with the proper technique for you and do it much more thoroughly over the same amount of time.

She also says that, if you're going to skip a brushing (or do one half-assed) it should be the morning brush. Do what you can to make your brushing at night a good one. The nice thing is that a half-assed brushing with a sonicare is FAR better than your best, most thorough manual brush even if you're using the right technique.

I usually go for years between cleanings even though I know it means that I'll feel like I'm getting tortured but since I started using the sonic care, there was a HUGE improvement and my last cleaning was pretty easy.
posted by VTX at 7:44 AM on August 15, 2012

Oh, and if you know anyone going to school for dentistry or hygiene or have a friend/family member in the industry, you can probably get the basic sonicare brush for cheap ($30 I think?).
posted by VTX at 7:46 AM on August 15, 2012

It's really not so bad. I didn't even feel the novocaine shots. Breathe deeply. Bring good mellowing music on good headphones. Have soup in your fridge. It's really just like a regular teeth cleaning but your gums will have that kinda tired-from-a-workout-at-the-gym feeling.
posted by mimi at 7:52 AM on August 15, 2012

As one who has had many, many periodontal procedures and now is absent several back molars, here is some of the advice I ignored from various dentists when the problem was just starting: 2x daily Sonicare. 2x daily flossing. Daily picking with a wooden toothpick. 2x daily Listerine. Use a proxabrush between spaces. The biggest problem for me, though, is that I delayed the scary procedures that were recommended (like deep cleanings and worse). I too had average dental hygiene. If you get a dentist that shames you, switch dentists. Also, if you are nervous about dental procedures, find a dentist that uses nitrous. Just knowing it's there if I need/want it has made all the difference in the world for me. And bring headphones with music you like to block out those unpleasant whirring and scraping sounds. Good luck. Don't delay. And make sure you're getting enough vitamin C; it's important for connective tissue.
posted by Wordwoman at 7:53 AM on August 15, 2012

I'll nth the Sonicare and vitamins (make sure your vitamin C has flavonoids in it), and throw in a recommendation for Colgate Total toothpaste. It has an antibacterial agent and it makes a big difference.
posted by kindall at 8:09 AM on August 15, 2012

Ask for some anti-anxiety assistance - either gas during the procedure or a pill beforehand. It really really helps the experience itself not be so traumatizing. That's useful both for the actual cleaning AND in terms of your mental state when booking the next appointment. In my perfect utopian world, everyone would get nitrous gas for every dental procedure. It doesn't make sense that so many people are so tortured by dentistry that they avoid and fear the procedures. Take care of yourself including the anxious side! And yes, water pik and sonicare, stat!
posted by barnone at 8:17 AM on August 15, 2012

I went to the dentist last month after avoiding it for seven years. Luckily I was not in terrible shape, but I did get the scaling. It was broken up into two appointments, right upper & lower, then left upper & lower. If I remember right, each appointment was about half an hour. It did not hurt at all. They used a topical anaesthetic that wore off fast-- no shot, no drooling, etc. As an added bonus, it was a great flossing motivator because it was stupid expensive.
posted by Marit at 8:21 AM on August 15, 2012

If you go the soniccare route--which you should!--after cleaning the teeth, angle the bristles so that they extend below the gumline by about an eighth of an inch, and hit the areas where plaque (or calculus? I'm not sure of the term) builds up. My dentist told me this.

Also, nitrous in the dentist's chair. Ever notice the peaceful expression on the rice rockets in "Fast and Furious"? That's N20, baby.
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:24 AM on August 15, 2012

The routine outlined in this blog post has given me the healthiest mouth I have ever had. Everyday will make your gums sore but three times a week will put your gums on the mend.
posted by a22lamia at 8:25 AM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

One thing I haven't seen mentioned in addition to other good advice here: if your mouth is dry, your tissues are more apt to be irritated. Listerine is awesome (do use it) but it adds to the dryness. My mouth is apt to be incredibly dry for various reasons, and my hygienist suggested xylitol products. I like Spry brand peppermint and cinnamon mints as well as a spray they make which I use when I wake up with my mouth dry.

Also, for no clear reason, using prescription flouride toothpaste seems to help. My hygienist says she sees that a lot.
posted by BibiRose at 8:32 AM on August 15, 2012

I don't know how bad your situation is, but at 42 I finally started flossing mostly regularly last month after my dentist informed me that I had some issues with my gums. I still have one problem area that I'm trying to show some love to but overall things have improved and it's only been two months. I have my next follow up next week and i'm hoping to get the thumbs up that my oral care plan is working.

Floss. Listerine. Brush. Consistently.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:59 AM on August 15, 2012

I have never been denied copious amounts of local anaesthetic before deep gum cleanings. Just ask!
posted by elizardbits at 9:24 AM on August 15, 2012

Exact, exact same thing last year:

1) Sonicare. Stat.
2) Floss. Stat. Floss is a lousy primitive invention for people with big fingers, and I don't think it works very well unless you've a mouth the size of a donkey's and 5 finger joints. There are floss picks and these Rota-point things to compensate. My dentist assures me it's necessary.
3) Tepe angle interdental brushes. Brilliant. They seem hard to find in the US, but Proxabrush looks similar.
4) Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash - available everywhere in the world OTC except in the US for no really good reason.

But dentist, too, alas.
posted by cromagnon at 9:28 AM on August 15, 2012

You've gotten some wonderful suggestions already, so I just wanted to come in to say this:

PLEASE don't beat yourself up over this. You say you're brushing twice a day and taking "average" care of your teeth. For many people, this would probably be just fine! I know people who probably couldn't identify a container of floss if their lives depended on it who've never had a cavity or gingivitis. Unfortunately, you're not one of those people. I feel your pain - I take meticulous care of my teeth & gums, but if I let it go for even a couple of weeks (and by "let it go" I mean do anything less than brush twice a day, Listerine 2-3 times a day, and floss), my gums start to go south.

Oh, and also: if this turns into an ongoing struggle, consider seeing your dentist every 3-4 months instead of every 6. It helped me get a handle on things when my gums were really giving me problems, and was well worth the cost. An ounce of prevention, etc. etc.
posted by pecanpies at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2012

My OCD dental hygienist, who has taken my gums from bleedy to pristine, says to stay away from Listerine or any other mouthwashes with alcohol; the drying worsens things for your gums in the long run. She recommends BreathRX or Rembrandt. Bonus: taste is not horrible.
posted by mimi at 3:18 PM on August 15, 2012

Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10) has been shown in some cases to improve gum health.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:10 PM on August 15, 2012

Also, I'd recommend ACT flouride mouthwash (non-alcoholic).
posted by chundo at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2012

« Older Well I gave it five stars David   |   Egyptian Arabic Translation into English please Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.