Hesperian Health Guides
Gum Disease Starting
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Infection can start in the gums whenever the teeth near them are not clean. For example, there may be swelling between only 2 teeth or between many teeth. In addition, gums that are weak from poor nutrition are not able to resist the infection. This is why pregnant women and people living with HIV must take special care to eat well and clean their teeth carefully. When a person has HIV, his body cannot fight infections well, so a gum infection can quickly get worse.
- Gums are red instead of pink.
- Gums are loose instead of tight against the tooth.
- Between the teeth, gums are round instead of pointed.
- Gums bleed when the person brushes or flosses.
- Gums bleed when you press against them, or when you scrape away food from under them.
- The person has bad breath and a bad taste inside the mouth.
Explain to the person the cause of her gum problem and what she can do to help herself. The only way to stop gum disease is to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and then to keep them clean.
- Show her how to clean her teeth better near the gums.
- Tell her to rinse her mouth with warm salt water. Make 4 cups each day until the bleeding stops. Then make 1 cup each day to keep the gums strong and tough.
- Tell her to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Guavas, oranges, pineapples, papayas, tomatoes, peas, and green leaves give strength to gums.
- Gently reach under the gums and remove tartar (or loose piece of fishbone) that is caught there (see Chapter 8).
Sometimes a pregnant woman’s gums become swollen, and the swelling does not go down even after cleaning with a soft brush and rinsing with salt water. These swellings must be cut away. But she should wait to have this small operation until after the baby is born