Three Daily Habits That Could Be Making Your Gums Look Worse Than They Are

Have you been experiencing problems with your gums despite brushing and flossing regularly? Are they redder than normal and possibly a little sore? If so, the cause may actually be something simple that you can easily change. Your gums can be incredibly sensitive and respond to how you treat them quickly. By taking a look at these three things, you could find the cause of your gum issues, giving you a chance to make everything better quickly.

The Wrong Toothbrush

Toothbrushes are sold in three bristle categories: soft, medium, and hard. In most cases, you should use soft bristles to brush your teeth. If you use medium or hard bristles, the stiff bristles can scrape your teeth and gums, creating problems with you enamel and irritating the sensitive tissue in your mouth. If you're currently using a medium- or hard-bristle toothbrush, switch to a soft-bristle brush and see how your gums react over the next few days.

Note that just because companies make and sell the medium- and hard-bristled brushes doesn't mean they're OK to use. Many people like the stiffer bristles because they think the bristles will do a better job of cleaning teeth. However, that's really not the case. Save the stiff bristles for when you need to clean a surface in your bathroom instead.

Mouthwash With Alcohol

Another possible culprit is your mouthwash. Look at the ingredient label and see if it contains alcohol. If it does, switch to one that is alcohol-free for a while and see how your gums react. The astringent properties of the alcohol can irritate your gums.

If it turns out you're using both a stiff brush and a mouthwash with alcohol, change both habits immediately, see if your gums start to look better, and then carefully experiment with adding the mouthwash back in. That will help you determine if the problem was just the brush or both the brush and the mouthwash. There's no need to try adding stiff brushes back into your routine; you shouldn't be using those in the first place.

Birth Control Pills

If those changes don't work, and you're a woman who uses birth control pills or another hormonal form of birth control, your medication could be the cause of your gum problems. The extra hormones can make your gums redder and increase the risk of periodontal disease. You may need to ask your doctor to see if there's another pill you can use; the different formulations between pill brands often have different side effects.

If you're still having an issue with your gums, see a dentist. He or she will be able to look for the cause and help you get your gums looking and feeling great.