Gum problems? It’s time to brush up your skills

Gum problems? It’s time to brush up your skills

Q: I floss daily but have noticed an area where my gums bleed regularly. I have one crown and the bleeding is between that and the tooth next to it. Can you advise?

A: According to London-based orthodontist Dr Neil Counihan (, ‘The basic problem is that food gets trapped under the crown. If it is not removed, the particles break down and form bacterial plaque within days,’ he says. Without attention, this can harden and form tartar, which can only be removed by professional cleaning.

The process causes unhealthy inflammation in the gum tissue, called gingivitis, where the gums become red, swollen and may bleed easily. The telltale sign is spitting out blood with saliva when you brush/floss. The principal problem with crowns is that their shape is not the same as the original tooth. Older crowns tend not to sit as well long term as more modern versions. It could also be due to a poorly fitted crown, a frequent problem in Dr Counihan’s experience.

Other causes include the gum level changing with age, also not cleaning thoroughly, not having regular dental checks, or general periodontal problems. If left untreated, the condition can cause halitosis and decay under the crown. In serious cases, it leads to bone and/or tooth loss and an increased risk of heart disease.

The solutions are thorough cleaning at home and six-monthly professional cleans. Dr Counihan recommends the Philips Sonicare range of electric toothbrushes, which ‘has well-designed heads to get between teeth’, and a toothpaste with fluoride.

Floss at night. Our tester favours Superdrug Totalcare Dental Tape (£1.49), as ‘it’s sturdy and doesn’t cut your gums’. Lazy flossers (or those with arthriticky hands) will like the rechargeable Philips Sonicare Airfloss (£73, from, which squirts air and water between the teeth at 45mph; just hold and point.

Also use an interdental brush daily – try Expert Dental TePe Interdental Brushes (£3.09 for six, from Boots). Antiseptic mouthwash can help prevent plaque and freshen breath.

Consider a supplement of co-enzyme Q10. Research supports the benefit of taking co-Q10, which helps oxygenate muscle tissues including the gums. For gums and teeth, pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends Super Ubiquinol CoEnzyme Q10 (£20.75 for 30 softgels, from Victoria Health).

See your dentist or hygienist if the problem persists.

Then check out our

A reader asks what can help prevent swollen legs when flying. The answer is two-fold: Diosmin Plus, a supplement that enhances blood flow and helps reduce swelling linked to water retention (£25 for 60 capsules, take one twice daily starting 24 hours before flying until 24 hours after you return).

Secondly, pop a 100ml pump bottle of Chillicious by Temple Spa in your take-on bag. This fragrant, non-sticky gel-balm instantly chills the skin anywhere you need it – think air-con in a bottle. It contains calming essential oils such as camomile and lavender, plus dandelion extract to help reduce puffiness. Brilliant for all travel (such as tube journeys this week during the Olympics), it’s also the kindest gift for menopausal friends.

Chillicious costs £18 and there is a fabulous offer for YOU readers. Order one Chillicious from Victoria Health and the first 250 to buy a bottle will receive another one free.

Find your sporting support

I would take a small bet that those Olympic volleyball girls (and all the other women contenders) know the importance of a well-fitting sports bra. Experts say many women with bigger bosoms avoid high-impact sports because of the ‘bounce’ factor – though breast pain affects smaller-busted women too – but this can be prevented with the right bra. Exercise-related breast discomfort (also hormone-related pain) can be helped by wearing a well-fitting bra both for sports and daily living, says sports and exercise scientist Dr Joanna Scurr of Portsmouth University. Several leading brands offer a sports bra fitting service including Sweatshop (, which has a useful video on how to fit) and Rigby & Peller (


(Ebury Press, £9.99*) When Henrietta Morrison’s border terrier Lily went off her food, her loving owner found that home-cooked meals – such as chicken and rice, vegetables and apples – tempted her appetite. The quality ingredients also solved Lily’s chronic skin problems and earache, and led to Henrietta launching her organic pet food brand, Lily’s Kitchen, formulated with vets. Now Henrietta has written this compendium of healthy recipes for our four-footed friends: think morning porridge, meat loaf, and lamb cupcakes. Lucky Lily!