Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why Gums Hurt and Bleed

It seems that everyday, one of my patients will have gums that bleed and hurt. They often wonder why.

Healthy gums should have a coral pink appearance and should not bleed readily. In addition, the texture should be stippled. In other words, it should have a texture similar to an orange. When they get somewhat glossy, it's because the gums are edematous (puffy from excess fluid). This is an early warning sign.

What are the causes of bleeding gums?

  • Inadequate hygiene at or below the gumline
  • Calculus (Tartar)
  • Certain Hormones
  • Certain Drugs
  • Foreign Bodies
  • Crowded/Crooked Teeth

The primary cause of bleeding gums is inadequate oral hygiene. When plaque is left at or below the gumline, it acts as an irritant or foreign body not much different than a splinter in your finger. Some people have told me that they don't brush at the gumline because it hurts and bleeds. The last thing you want to do is to avoid brushing at the gumline. You must remove the debris or it will never get better. A chronic bleeding gum condition will lead to gum loss, bone loss and ultimately, tooth loss.

Proper hygiene becomes exceedingly
difficult when the pocket exceeds 3mm
Calculus is plaque that has mineralized. It becomes hard and attaches to the tooth surfaces. This is a bigger problem than plaque.

Women undergo many hormonal changes during pregnancy. The gums become enlarged and will therefore create more difficulty in removing debris during routine oral hygiene.

Certain drugs like Dilantin (anti-epileptic medication), will cause gingival hyperplasia which means the gums will grow. Again, this makes hygiene much more challenging.

Foreign bodies also cause inflammation. The most common one that I've seen are popcorn kernel husks. They notoriously get stuck between the tooth and gums. They can be difficult to remove at home.

Crowded/crooked teeth are more difficult to keep clean. There is an increased risk of developing gingivitis.


The best thing anyone can do for their oral health is to meticulously brush and floss. I prefer electric toothbrushes over manual ones because the plaque is removed more thoroughly. It is also much gentler on the gums. Some people can be too aggressive with a manual toothbrush. Your dentist or hygienist can demonstrate proper flossing and brushing techniques.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Why You Don't Want Dentures

I'm amazed at how often people will tell me "just pull them all and give me dentures".

Dentures are fake and will never be as good as real teeth. I tell people that if I made the best fake legs ever, it would be be impossible for them to function as real legs. They would most certainly be displeased with even "the best fake legs ever".

Let me tell you why you don't want dentures. Here are 15 reasons why:

  1. Dentures are big bulky pieces of acrylic that you have to keep in your mouth.
  2. You may have difficulty tasting your food.
  3. You may not feel the temperature of the foods you eat.
  4. You may have difficulty with feeling the texture of your foods.
  5. Your food selection will be severely limited.
  6. The dentures will be uncomfortable. 
  7. The gums will hurt.
  8. The dentures will not be stable and may flop around.
  9. You may not be able to adequately chew your food.
  10. You may have difficulty speaking. You may have difficulty pronouncing words with the letters S, T, F and V.
  11.  In many cases, dentures may look like dentures rather than natural teeth.
  12. You will lose the lip support provided by the teeth. This will cause your lips to collapse inward and will also develop wrinkles around the mouth.
  13. The vertical dimension of your face will shorten. In other words, your face will appear much shorter.
  14. Your facial appearance will look at least ten years older.
  15. You will lose jaw bone in both height and width. Over time, you may not even be able to wear the dentures and would be considered a "dental cripple".

If you can keep your teeth, you will be much better of than losing them and wearing dentures. You will experience a much higher quality of life. If you are considering dentures, I highly encourage you to save every tooth you can. 

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit