When you think about your dental health, the main thing that probably springs to mind is how you’re taking care of your teeth. That’s only part of the picture though – optimal oral health also means ensuring you look after your gums!
Bleeding gums is one issue that is extremely common, and requires some extra attention to determine the cause and to get it under control. Even though a little bit of blood is usually nothing to be too concerned about, if it’s happening consistently it’s something you shouldn’t ignore.
Here are the 6 most common causes of bleeding gums, and what you should do when your gums bleed to treat this issue.
6 Causes of Bleeding Gums and Treatment
Some of the most common reasons your gums bleed include:
- Gingivitis or periodontitis
- Bushing technique
- Flossing routine
Gingivitis or Periodontitis
Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease and can often be a cause of bleeding gums. This occurs as a result of plaque (a film that builds up on the teeth) accumulating along the gumline if your brushing or flossing isn’t up to scratch. Plaque eventually turns into a harder material known as tartar which irritates the gums, leading them to bleed and causing gingivitis.
Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease which can occur if gingivitis isn’t treated early. This type of infection affects the gums as well as the jaw and tissues connecting the teeth and gums, which can eventually lead to tooth loss.
What you can do: A good oral hygiene routine will help prevent plaque buildup and gum disease. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily, and visit your dentist for your regular 6-monthly check-up and clean. If your gums are bleeding, your dentist can examine your teeth and gums to determine if you have gingivitis, and treat it early before it can progress into periodontitis.
As mentioned above, proper brushing technique can help avoid gingivitis from occurring. On the other end of the spectrum, brushing your teeth too aggressively can also irritate your gums and cause them to bleed.
What you can do: Use a toothbrush with soft bristles, and be sure to brush gently – only a little pressure is needed to remove plaque! Some people benefit from switching to an electric toothbrush, where the rotating head does most of the work for you and prevents the feeling of needing to scrub vigorously. One sign that you’re probably brushing too hard is if your toothbrush bristles quickly bend outwards.
If you’ve flossed for the first time in who knows how long (we’ve all been guilty of this, let’s be real!), this can often cause a little bit of bleeding. This doesn’t mean you should stop flossing, as the bleeding will normally go away by itself if there isn’t another underlying cause.
What you can do: Stick with the daily flossing and be gentle – don’t press the floss straight down against the teeth and gums too forcefully, instead carefully use a back and forth motion to move in between the teeth.
Bleeding gums that aren’t a result of gum disease or another one of the common causes mentioned here may signal that you aren’t receiving all the nutrients you need, and you may have a Vitamin C or Vitamin K deficiency.
What you can do: Get your vitamin levels checked, and ensure you’re including these vitamins in your diet.
Foods high in Vitamin C include:
Foods high in Vitamin K include:
- Olive oil
In terms of diet, it’s not only about what you’re missing, but what you’re including too much of! Eating high amounts of sugar can increase the likelihood of developing teeth and gum issues, including plaque forming on the teeth which we noted previously as a cause of gingivitis.
What you can do: Kick your sugar cravings and reduce the amount of sweet treats you’re eating, replacing these with more vegetables high in essential nutrients instead.
Some pain relief medicines such as aspirin thin the blood, which results in increased bleeding when brushing. Other prescription medications can also have a similar effect.
What you can do: It’s best to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing even minor side effects such as these if you think they’re a result of your medication, as they may be able to provide you with alternative doses or options.
Believe it or not, hormones also play a part in your gum health. It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to notice that their gums bleed when brushing or flossing, a couple of months into their pregnancy. This is an indication of pregnancy gingivitis, which is usually only temporary until after the birth. Other symptoms can include red or swollen gums and bad breath, these being just a few of the unexpected ways that pregnancy affects your dental health.
What you can do: This is less likely to occur in women who have always had a good oral health routine, so even before becoming pregnant make sure you’re brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly.
Pregnancy gingivitis is also more common for women who have experienced a history of gum inflammation, so it’s important to pop in to your dentist to have this treated and get your gums checked throughout pregnancy if you experience this, as well as after birth to make sure the gum issues have resolved themselves.
Understanding that there can be a variety of reasons that your gums may be bleeding can help you rule out the causes, which are usually resolved with some simple changes to your routine or oral care techniques.
Whenever in doubt, visiting your dentist can give you the peace of mind you need and help you find a quicker solution. Your dentist can take x-rays of your teeth and gums and determine if further professional gum disease treatment is necessary, such as a deep clean or periodontal surgery with a periodontist (gum disease specialist).
Bleeding gums are often nothing to worry about, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry – the sooner you get professional advice from your dentist, the sooner your gum issues can be managed. To make an appointment or find out more information at our Gold Coast dental clinics, please don’t hesitate to contact our lovely team!