Why are my gums bleeding?
If you are brushing your teeth and you notice a bit of pink when you spit out toothpaste or you notice some bleeding when you floss, then you need to visit your dentist.
Although even the smallest amount of blood may not seem like much, if your gums are continuously bleeding, it should not be taken lightly. DO NOT ignore it, visit your dentist. Although bleeding gums aren’t always a result of gum disease, your dentist will be able to pinpoint the cause and will be able to treat you accordingly.
Healthy gums should be pink, firm and able to keep your teeth securely in place. Dental care issues are the primary cause of bleeding gums. Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, or inflammation of your gums. It is a common, mild form of gum disease that is caused by a buildup of plaque on your gum line.
Conditions such as gingivitis (Inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis make your gums sensitive, therefore they become very prone to bleeding.
If gingivitis is left untreated you leave the risk of it getting worse. If this were to happen a condition called periodontitis can develop. This condition directly affects the tissues that support the teeth and hold them correctly in place.
Plaque is a sticky film which builds up on your teeth. It is usually quite easy to remove by brushing and flossing your teeth. Over time, if you’re not brushing properly the plaque hardens and turns into tartar. Tartar sticks stronger to the teeth than plaque and can usually only be removed by your regular dentist or a dental hygienist.
Over time, acid in plaque build up begins to break down your tooth’s surface and causes tooth decay. Other bacteria in plaque can also irritate your gums and make them swollen and irritated.
Are you at risk?
As well as poor oral hygiene, there are a number of things that can increase your personal risk of developing gums.
Smoking erodes your internal health. Most importantly impacting your oral health.
Gum disease becomes more common as you get older.
This lifelong condition means that a person’s blood sugar levels become too high.
If you are taking medicines that can cause dry mouth you may be likely to have gum disease. These medications include antidepressants and antihistamines.
Hormonal changes can make gums become more vulnerable to plaque
The power of stress on your body is huge. It can affect many different parts of your body, including your oral health.
- A weakened immune system
Due to conditions such as cancer or HIV, the treatments to these conditions weaken your immune system, leaving your gums open to disease
How you fuel your body affects your oral health as much as the rest of your body. If your diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients, your teeth and gums will bear the consequences.
Bleeding gums are the most common symptom of gum disease, but it can also mean that you are brushing your teeth too vigorously and could also indicate a more serious conditions including:
- Periodontitis – An advanced form of gum disease
- Leukemia – Cancer of the blood
- Vitamin deficiency
- Lack of clotting cells
The best way to determine what the cause of your bleeding gums are, is to see your dentist.
What is Gum disease?
Gum disease sounds very scary and you want to do all that you can to avoid getting it. It is actually very common. When the gums become sore, swollen or infected it is likely that you have gum disease.However, gum disease is not always painful or obvious to detect. You may have gum disease and not even know it. This is why it is important to attend your regular dental checkups.
Most adults in the UK have a sort of gum disease to some degree. Most people experience it at least once. It is a lot less common amongst children.
It is very common that when you have gum disease, your gums will bleed while you brush your teeth. Another symptom that you may have gum disease is bad breath. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.
Gingivitis usually develops when plaque stays on gums lines for too long. Plaque is the debris and bacteria that stick to your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day can remove plaque and can prevent cavities. But plaque is able to stay on your gum line if you do not brush and floss correctly.
The plaque that is not removed correctly accumulates and can cause gingivitis. The plaque hardens and turns into tartar (calculus) which is what increases the bleeding.
Symptoms of gingivitis:
- Soreness around the mouth and the gums
- Puffy/ inflamed gums
- Bleeding gums
If gingivitis is left untreated you leave the risk of it getting worse. If this were to happen a condition called periodontitis can develop. This condition directly affects the tissues that support the teeth and hold them correctly in place. This is a lot harder to treat than gingivitis.
How to treat bleeding gums
The best way to treat gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene. Sometimes brushing and flossing alone is not enough, sometimes medical treatments are necessary.
- Brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, twice a day. Once in the morning after you wake up and again before you go to sleep at the end of the night.
- Make sure that you are using a toothpaste that contains fluoride which helps fight against tooth decay.
- Flossing or using an interdental toothbrush daily, before brushing your teeth. These help get rid of anything that can cause plaque in between your teeth.
- Regularly visiting your dentist, at least twice a year.
- Not smoking!
Antiseptic mouthwashes are available from our online shop as well as local pharmacies. Mouthwash cannot replace brushing and flossing and definitely cannot remove existing plaque. Mouthwash will help you control the plaque build up.
Your dentist will be able to advise you about which type of mouthwash is most suitable for you and how to use it to be most effective for you. You should not use this type of mouthwash for longer than 4 weeks.
The most common painkillers that often work well are paracetamol and ibuprofen. They are available from many supermarkets and over the counter form pharmacies. They will help reduce any pain or discomfort you may feel.
These types of painkillers aren’t suited for everyone, seek medical advice before taking them.
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease. Giving up smoking can greatly improve your oral hygiene combined with actually improving your oral hygiene.
Taking that first step to decide to stop smoking is the biggest. Your GP can give you information, help and advice to quit. You can also visit NHS Smokefree.