My endless struggles with gum disease
Can you help? 

This post from a frustrated reader in Scottland really got my attention.

You can't ask for more effort and yet gum disease symptoms keep recurring.

I gave a couple of suggestions but maybe you have been in this situation and can share what worked for you.

I'm very glad to have found this site. What follows is a bit of an epic, and I hope you don't mind if I take the chance to tell a bit of a story about my struggles with gingivitis over the past few years before comming to my current problem.

I'm only 27, but have been battling with gum disease for a very long time now. I'll be the first to admit that in my younger years, I didn't exactly have great dental hygiene. I have a lot of very heavy fillings, including one root canal that causes me constant worry. And yes, I was very accustomed to having my gums bleed, and never really took much notice of it. Guilty as charged :)

However, after an acute gum infection a few years ago, which caused me a lot of pain and a lot of mental trauma as I could literally see an area of my gum dissappearing over the course of two days as the tissue died (learn my lesson, kids), I really, really sat up and took notice. 

I got myself a Sonicare and brushed twice a day, for significantly more than the regulation five minutes. 

I started flossing religiously once a day, and using the Cortisol mouthwash that my dentist had suggested. I managed to, eventually, drag myself back from trenchmouth to a reasonable level of gum health, and eliminated the bleeding and bad breath. 

For a while, anyway. It wasn't long before, despite this regime, I'd be spitting a bit pink again, then a lot pink, then aaarghmouthfulsofblood. I'd reintroduce the Corsodyl mouthwash again, I'd redouble my efforts, I'd clear up the afflicted area...and then no sooner would that improve than some other bit of my gums would get inflamed, and start bleeding.

I visited the dentist regularly, and he would check my teeth, say they were fine. If I tried to engage him regarding my recurring gum problems, he'd siy say 'You just have to keep at it, brush harder and more thoroughly and use the Corsodyl mouthwash'. However, he never suggested that I visit a hygienist - I'm not even sure if one was employed at the practice at this time. Any deep cleanings that were required, he did himself at any time I was in to have fillings repaired, etc. Additionally, I have problems with dry mouth - my jaws are slightly misaligned in a way which means I can't fully close my mouth without consciously doing so. Consequently I generally always end up mouth breathing at night, waking up with a dry mouth - you get the idea. I've mentioned this as a possible exacerbating factor to my dentist too, but he was quite dismissive and didn't offer any advice about it.

I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder and my gingivitis issues are a real, real trigger for me, and over the years of frustration this has become more and more of an issue. Eventually last year I realised that my own efforts weren't making enough of a difference and made an appointment with the hygienist myself. She informed me that I had some fairly deep pockets, and had a bit of work to do, because I obviously didn't want to be losing teeth. Exactly, that's why I was there :)

I maintained my regime of brushing twice a day, and started brushing lightly and gently after every meal too. I upped my flossing to twice a day, and also flossing any sensitive or currently-inflamed areas after every meal, too. Again I started using the Corsodyl mouthwash (although I have had repeated problems with it - I can't deny that it has always helped me in chasing off infections, but it does seem to irritate my gums generally quite a bit and make previously-healthy areas seem redder and puffier than they did - and ye gods, it BURNS! I tend to use it diluted with 50% water to try and prevent this). I was absolutely, rigidly diligent. It paid off though, as at my next Hygienist appointment three months later she said I'd made massive improvements, and to keep doing whatever I was doing. Following that visit, I'm pleased to say that I spent the next three months largely free of bleeding gums.

The few months I have managed to pass blood free have been a massive motivator and I was so pleased with myself and so happy and so utterly relieved for having finally managed to get it under control. My last visit to the hygienist, just over four weeks ago, was an absolute triumph for me, because she said she was happy to tell me that my gums were massively improved, that they looked good even, and that she was happy for me to stop coming along for three-monthly cleanings and revert back to six-monthly. I asked her if she minded if I stuck to the three-monthly appointments, as I felt they had helped me immensely and kept me good and motivated to do the best job I could. I left a very, very happy bunny.

Five weeks later, I'm less happy again, and my gums are bleeding anew. I'm most upset because I can't account for it. I've been absolutely unwavering in my dental hygiene regime, I can say that honestly, and yet once again areas of my gums are bleeding freely when brushed. 

The area in question does not even seem to bleed much when flossed - I can rattle an interdental flosser around in there quite freely and not cause a bleed, but when my toothbrush goes anywhere near it, it bleeds. I was genuinely shocked at first to see so much blood during my evening brushing when 12 hours earlier, there had been none; I thought there was no way it could be infection-related, and perhaps I had just traumatised the gum somewhat, maybe brushing a bit overzealously with a new toothbrush head, and decided to try and give it time to recover; being much more gentle with my brushing, switching the power off my electric toothbrush and manually brushing to avoid trauma as much as possible, switching mouthwash for salt water rinses until the gum recovered a bit. It didn't; and other areas on my gum seem to have flared up. Once again, I've started using the Corsodyl - this time I bought the alcohol-free variety to see if it reduced the flaring-up I seem to experience while using it. It's been four days of this regime now and I'm not seeing any improvement - my gums as a whole are simply sore and raw-feeling from the repeated brushing and chemical scalding I seem to have given them, and the bleeding areas are not bleeding any less.

I apologise for my rambling. I wonder if others reading this might recognise the situation, though; the frustrating grind of trying your absolute best to combat a problem that really, really upsets and stresses you, and refuses to fully go away. 

Of course I'm not giving up; I still don't want to lose my teeth. I also don't want to become a burden on my Hygienist however, running to her office every time I see a spot of blood in the sink, and I'd like to be able to stop having out and out, full-body tremors, hyperventilating panic attacks every time I go to brush. I always fight through it and make sure the job gets done, but I can absolutely understand the position of people who can't make themselves do it. 

What I guess I'm looking for is any suggestions of anything else I could possibly try, reassurance that I'm doing the right things and maybe a bit of hope that I might possibly get this fully sorted one day.

Thanks for your time:)

My Reply

Some things to consider... 

Hi There, Sorry about your struggle. Good job turning your gums get an A+ for effort:) 

About your recent relapse: 

I'm glad you are seeing a hygienist every three months because your gums seem to react (and over-react) very quickly. Six months may be too long to let them go. 

I can't tell you why they are so volitile. But here are a couple of thoughts: 

You mentioned mouth breathing and misaligned teeth.

Both make reversing gum disease difficult. Have you thought of getting your teeth straightened?  You are not too old for braces. You may even be a good candidate for invisalign. 

Having your teeth straigtened would solve two issues (crowded teeth and mouth breathing) that make gingivitis and periodontal disease more likely....something to think about:)

To prevent your gums from drying out at night, apply a thin layer of vaseline before going to bed. The lip and palate side of the upper and lip side of the lower front teeth tend to dry out most. 

Here are some additional dry mouth remedies

Also, I'm wondering if you are irritating your gums by brushing too much and too hard? There is a fine line between thorough cleaning and scrubbing your gums off:) 

A quick trip to your hygienist would help you know. Traumatized gum tissue looks very different than gingivitis and the answer would be clear after a very quick look by a dentist or hygienist. 

You need this piece of information so you will know what to do to improve your gums. 

Lastly, I wonder if you have a health condition that is causing your gums to be so troubled. If after a visit to your hygienist, you can't solve the problem. A visit to your physician should be your next stop. A review of prescription medicines (with your physician's help) might also offer some clues. 

Good luck, 

Thankfully I'm not the only one who has good advice.  

More helpful advice...

gum disease 
by: Pam Holloway 

I read your article and there are a few comments that I can make that will help. The mouth wash might be too irritating, You might need a periodontist and try hydrogen peroxide and water rinse, half and half. You might need a softer brush, and get a water pick Hope this helps.

Let me know, Pam

Oil Pull 
by: Anonymous 

Try Dr. Christopher's Herbal Tooth & Gum Powder.

Also, try getting some Celestial Seasons Sleepy Time Herbal Tea Bags. 

Before you go to sleep, take one tea bag & soak it in some coconut oil. Then place on gums as you sleep at night. Also can use virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil with a drop of oregano oil mixed in first before soaking in tea bag. This method is called oil pull. God Bless.

Burden of Gum Disease 
by: Anonymous 

I can pretty much relate to your burden . I inherited this from my mom . I was the only sibling that was affected by it . Even today I felt the emotional pain . A heavy burden and heavy cross that I must carry for as long as I live . I can also feel the frustration of the hygienist and dentist that I go to . I can feel also and sense the hopelessness in their face . But I still hope in the Lord Jesus that perhaps He will see and feel the pain that I felt and see me cry at night .... My advise ...avoid stressful sitiuation It can flare up and you will have those bleeding episodes . When we're under so much stress It somehow weakened our immune system ans cause those bleeding episode . We don't hold on to what is already lost BUT we fight for what is still left . I keep pleading with the Lord Jesus every night for I know He can still cure and heal any disease no matter hopeless and cureless it is . Jesus is still our great Healer ....

Possible Vitamin deficiency? 
by: Anonymous 

It's very well possible that you may have a vitamin deficiency-vitamin c most likely because what you are describing almost sounds like scurvy. Also you should have blood work done for anemia-such as b12. I had your same problem for years until I started supplementing with higher 
Doses of vitamin c. When I was pregnant with my first two children my guns bled like crazy. I took about 1000mg of vitamin c with my third and never had a problem. I have then continued this regimen and I don't have anymore problems with my gums.

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