Many people believe that their teeth are the end-all and be-all when it comes to the health of their smile, but his simply isn’t true. Of course, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston dental team are concerned about the status of your pearly whites, but we also want to ensure that your gums are healthy. The tissue surrounding your teeth is an important indicator of your overall oral health. Ideally, your gums should be slightly pink and firm, forming an appropriate foundation for your teeth.
Unfortunately, many people experience discomfort and even put their teeth at risk due to gingival issues they don’t realize are actually quite serious. If your gums begin to peel or bleed, it’s important to understand why and address it as soon as possible. In the following blog, Dr. Flanagan and our team explain the various possible causes for this condition, as well as offer solutions to keep your gums healthy.
Gingival Peeling Symptoms
How do you know if you’re suffering from peeling gums? In most cases, it will be fairly obvious – you will notice loose, dead tissue sloughing off of your cheeks and around your gum line. You may also find yourself chewing on or swallowing these thin, detached pieces of tissue. Whether or not your gums are peeling, you should also look out for other potentially problematic symptoms, such as:
Redness, white patches, or other forms of discoloration.
Changes in the texture of your gingival tissue.
Sores or blisters in your gums.
If you experience peeling or any of the above symptoms, contact Dr. Flanagan immediately for assistance.
How Whitening Leads to Peeling
You’ve probably at least thought about or maybe even tried whitening your teeth at some point. After all, in a 2012 survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, “when respondents were asked, “what would you most like to improve about your smile?” The most common response was: whiter & brighter teeth.” However, not all whitening treatments are created equal. When brightening your smile, it’s important to use safe, professional, proven methods, or you could put your gums at risk.
Many whitening products are available over the counter, but some store-bought systems come along with undesirable side effects, such as excessive tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, and – you guessed it – peeling gums. The ingredients may be too harsh for certain people who already have sensitive gums or gingival problems. In addition, store-bought products typically don’t offer nearly the same results as a professional whitening treatment performed by a dentist like Dr. Flanagan. We offer the advanced KöR and ZOOM! teeth whitening systems at our Houston office.
If you’ve recently used a whitening toothpaste, mouthwash, or another store-bought whitening product, and you’re noticing peeling or any other adverse effects, we recommend that you discontinue use and come see Dr. Flanagan. We can help you protect your gums and enjoy a dazzling, white smile.
Know Which Mouthwash to Avoid
While they do offer some benefits, many mouthwashes and rinses contain alcohol, which can dry out or irritate your gum tissue. Dr. Flanagan suggests that you check the ingredient list of any oral product you use for the words “alcohol,” “SD alcohol,” or “isopropyl alcohol.” If your mouth feels dry or irritated, or your gums begin to peel, alcohol could be the cause. If you’re not sure if a particular product is right for you, ask Dr. Flanagan.
How Brushing Can Bother Your Gums
Of course, brushing is an essential part of oral hygiene. As the American Dental Association recommends, you should “brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush” for at least two minutes. However, if done improperly, brushing can actually hurt your gums.
First of all, brushing too hard, or over-brushing, can occur if you use too much force with your brush or use a brush with bristles that are too firm. Brushing too hard can lead to gum recession, irritation, and peeling. At your biannual preventive care appointment, Dr. Flanagan can help you choose an appropriately soft-bristled toothbrush. She can also teach you the proper techniques to keep your gums healthy, such as brushing in a circular motion at the correct angle.
The second danger of brushing lies in the toothpaste you use. As with mouthwash, it’s important to select a non-abrasive formula. A 2016 study published in Clinical oral investigations found that patients reported “soft tissue peeling,” among other symptoms, when they used “low pH toothpastes that are highly abrasive and cytoxic.” If you are currently using a low pH toothpaste and experiencing peeling, Dr. Flanagan can help you heal your gums and switch to a better, safer formula.
The same bacteria that cause cavities can also wreak havoc on your gums. If your gum tissue becomes infected, you can develop gum disease, which may lead to bleeding, irritation, redness, sores, and peeling. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, while the more advanced form is called periodontitis. In this stage of the condition, you may even be at risk for losing your teeth, as the gums that hold them become destabilized by infection. Unfortunately, gum disease is much more common than you may think. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “47.2 percent, or 64.7 million American adults, have mild, moderate, or severe periodontitis” and “in adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.”
These are sobering statistics, but fortunately, gum disease (as well as peeling and the other unpleasant symptoms associated with it) is easily reversible when caught and treated in its early stages. If you’ve noticed peeling, it’s important to come see Dr. Flanagan as soon as you can, since gingivitis and periodontitis tend to worsen if left unhandled. You can reduce your risk for gum disease by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, maintaining a healthy diet, and seeing Dr. Flanagan for preventive care visits at least twice a year.
Other Oral Conditions
If your gums are peeling, it’s also possible that this is occurring due to a rarer oral health condition. As a 2011 study in the Journal of the German Society of Dermatology notes, “desquamative gingivitis (DG) is a clinical descriptive term indicating ‘peeling gums’” and “may be a manifestation of several mucocutaneous [related to areas where mucous membranes meet skin] diseases.” For these more advanced disorders, ‘treatment… [typically] consists of treating the underlying disease… [while] elimination of local gingival irritants, such as dental plaque and calculus [the hardened form of plaque] significantly improve treatment outcome.” If your gums are peeling due to DG or a related condition, Dr. Flanagan can work with you to improve your oral hygiene and send you to a specialist if needed. The wide range of diseases associated with gingival peeling is one more reason you should definitely see our team for help if you have this symptom.
Don’t Ignore Your Gums
The moral of the story is: pay attention to your gingival tissue. If your gums are peeling, the best thing you can do is see your dentist. Dr. Flanagan can discuss your oral habits, go over the products you’re using, and review any other factors that could be contributing to the problem in order to diagnose its cause. Once she’s determined a potential source for your peeling, Dr. Flanagan will create a customized treatment plan to help you remedy this and keep your gingival tissue healthy. Getting the oral healthcare you need can help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms such as peeling in the short-term, plus save you time, money, hassle, and discomfort in the long-term.
Are Your Gums Peeling? Our Houston Dental Office Can Help
If you’re suffering from peeling gums or any other oral health concern, we’d be delighted to assist you. Contact Dr. Flanagan today to learn more and schedule an appointment.
Gum Disease Infographic from CDC: https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm ( CDC: HALF OF AMERICAN ADULTS HAVE PERIODONTAL DISEASE )
Capstone Dental Clintonville: https://capstoneclintonville.com/blog/periodontal-disease-stats-gum-disease-facts-infographic/ (7 Surprising Periodontal Disease Stats & Gum Disease Facts )