Brushing Your Teeth with ITP

ITP, low platelet count, low Platelets, ITP disease, immune system disease, living with itp, ITP and brushing teeth, bleeding gums,

Feature Image from DORISFERRES

A little while ago I posted a comment about how much I disliked brushing my teeth when my platelets were low.  A few people replied that they also had problems with brushing their teeth and bleeding gums.  The problem with this is that you might actually get Gum Disease as a consequence Below is a more detailed post regarding what low-platelet-oral-hygiene options there are.

Did you know that dentists are often the ones to diagnose ITP in their patients?  Dentists are known to recommend their patients to seek a consultation with their GP if they notice any abnormal bleeding without the presence of gum disease.  In this way, as many people can ignore bleeding gums, they might be the first ones to notice anything abnormal.

There are a number of reasons why your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth.  You might have ITP or you may have the beginnings of gum disease.  Your gums shouldn’t bleed when you brush your teeth.  For someone with a bleeding disorder, often the first place to bleed is the mouth and gums.  I know that the first place I notice a really low count is in the bathroom sink at about 10.30 pm.

The problem with this scenario is that I can’t always assume that my gums are bleeding because I have ITP – I might very well have gum disease as well.  This is were the confusion comes in.  People with ITP can still get gum disease and it is important to not just assume that a bit of blood in your spit as you brush your teeth is from a low platelet count.  Am I making any sense?

When I have a low platelet count, I notice my gums bleed more.  I dislike the taste of blood.  I think it tastes like metal or electricity in my mouth.  For me it is one of the worst sensations.  Therefore, I will usually avoid brushing my teeth so I don’t have to taste it.  This is a problem because I am now more likely to get another gum related, gross hygiene issue in my mouth. …and the bleeding goes on.

So what can you do to make sure your gums are always healthy and treated properly?

  • Buy a New Tooth Brush – Go to the supermarket right now and buy yourself a new tooth brush.  I am sure that your toothbrush is more than 6 weeks old and probably resting against another toothbrush as we speak.
  • Buy a Soft Tooth Brush – While you’re at the shop/supermarket/market buying your new toothbrush, make sure it is soft.  We all should be using a soft toothbrush. Our gums are delicate and don’t need to be exfoliated like the bottom of our feet.  My dentist was telling me that most parents always buy soft brushes for their kids but forget for themselves.
  • Buy an Environmentally Sustainable Toothbrush – Now that you are going to be buying a lot more toothbrushes and changing your toothbrush as often as you need to, I recommend conscious shopping.  Plastic toothbrushes have no use once they are tossed and are rarely recycled outside of prison. BRUSH WITH BAMBOO make a great bamboo toothbrush you can order in bulk online HERE.  Once you are done with it, chuck it in the compost, home fire or the recycling.
  • Change the Way you Brush – I have a great dentist who is always happy to chat about my bleeding issues (most of them in my mind).  She told me to change the way I brushed my teeth.  She told me that most people brush their teeth too hard and their gums can’t handle it.  Did you know that too much pressure on your gyms will force them to recede away from your teeth.  Instead of holding your toothbrush in you hand, hold it between one finger and your thumb.  Teach your kids, who have a bleeding disorder to get into the habit of brushing without any force.
  • Chewing Gum – I was never allowed to chew gum when I was growing up, but apparently it is not just a treat.  Sugar free chewing gum is a great temporary solution to brushing your teeth if you really can’t stand to brush.  The chewing motion and saliva stimulation helps to clean out the teeth and mouth.  For a sweet treat that children and adults alike will appreciate, DENTAL HEALTH MAGAZINE recommends chewing on a piece of sugar-free gum to loosen debris and remove surface plaque from the teeth.
  • Oil Pulling – A natural alternative.  I now practice oil pulling in conjunction with a broader oral hygiene routine.  I often forget to do it, but I am learning to incorporate it into my routine.  The basic idea is that you hold a tablespoon on oil in your mouth for 20 minutes, swishing it around like mouth wash.
  • I have a bottle of sunflower oil in the shower and try to hold the oil in my mouth for the whole time I am showering and getting dressed.  It is hard.  I think it is a great practice; if not for the mouth then for the mind.  It requires you to breath through the nose, which settles me down, slows me down and takes up brain power.  Try it for a week.  Below are a few links if you are interested in reading more on oil pulling.
  • Oil Pulling; a WONDERFUL THERAPY
  • OIL PULLING in Ayurveda
  • 19 Very Clever Things to do with Coconut oil; OIL PULLING IS #19

If you are a parent looking for help and advice on how to get your children more interested in mouth care and DENTAL HYGIENE dental hygiene then check out Dr Dorris A. Ferries’s article with some great suggestions from experienced dentists and parents.


by Meg

Meghan Brewster is a writer and blogger. She is an ITP patient and launched ITP&Me in 2011. She is a coffee lover and a try hard dancer. @meghan_brewster

2 thoughts on “Brushing Your Teeth with ITP

  1. Pingback: A Wellness Journal for ITP - ITP and Me

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