If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth you might have gingivitis. This gum disease is characterized by inflammation of the gums and can be painful if not taken care of. Fortunately, it can be treated and prevented with good oral hygiene.

Gingivitis is a periodontal disease that is caused by the long-term effects of plaque  accumulation on the teeth. Plaque is the material made of bacteria, mucus and food that develop on the teeth over time. It is the main cause of tooth decay and can irritate the gums. Gingivitis is caused primarily by poor dental hygiene.

One of the most common symptoms of gingivitis is bleeding on your gums when you brush your teeth. According to the American Dental Association, symptoms also include gums that are red in color and feel tender. Gums may also appear swollen or shiny. You may also develop mouth sores. If you suffer from any of these symptoms or a combination, see your dentist. He or she will be able to determine if the redness and swelling is, in fact, gingivitis.

The best way to avoid gum disease is to take good care of your teeth. Maintaining a healthy oral hygiene regime will remove the plaque that causes the problem. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Add the use of anti-plaque or anti tartar toothpastes and mouth rinses to better clean between the teeth. It is also important to visit your dentist for professional teeth cleaning ever six months.

A dentist will need to thoroughly clean your teeth in order to remove plaque deposits and reduce inflammation. After professional cleaning, you will need to maintain a careful oral hygiene regimen. This will include brushing and flossing at least twice a day. The dentist may also recommend professional cleaning more than twice a year. Antibacterial mouth rinses may also be prescribed in addition to brushing and flossing. In some cases, repair of misaligned teeth or the replacement of dental and orthodontic appliances may be recommended.

Gingivitis can be treated with good oral hygiene and regular trips to the dentist for professional cleaning. The removal of plaque after professional cleaning may lead to some discomfort. This can be treated with warm salt water rinses to reduce puffiness. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help ease the pain post-cleaning. For more information about gum disease, the American Dental Association is a good resource.