The Causes of Bleeding Gums

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
November 6, 2018

Business woman holding coffee and looking out the window

Have you noticed that your gums bleed, especially when you brush or floss? If you’ve ever wondered why this happens, you aren’t alone.

Although this is a common problem, it’s important to know that the reason for it may be serious, so keep reading to learn about a few of the main causes of bleeding gums, along with what you can do to remedy this oral health issue.

Gingivitis: A Big Reason for the Blood on Your Toothbrush

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. It leads to inflamed, tender, red, and irritated gums that bleed easily, such as when you brush your teeth.

What causes gingivitis? Well, it’s the result of plaque and bacteria building up along the gumline, causing irritation and swelling. Even though you might not have painful or obvious symptoms, if your gums bleed every time brush or floss, it’s time to take action.  

The good news is that this is considered mild gum disease, and it’s preventable, treatable, and reversible. Brushing at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day, is a smart and easy way to remove plaque before it can adversely affect the gums.

What you can do:Improving your oral hygiene routine at home and seeing your dentist more often for cleanings can help you stop gingivitis and the bleeding that comes along with it.

Interesting fact: Did you know that “pregnancy gingivitis” is a thing? Yep, if you’re pregnant, you might end up with gingivitis even if you’ve never had it before.

When Gingivitis Isn’t Treated, It Turns into Terrifying Periodontitis

Not feeling motivated enough to see your dentist to treat gingivitis? Are you assuming it’s a minor problem that you can just deal with? Think again.

Left untreated, gingivitis can worsen, leading to periodontitis (a.k.a. periodontal disease). This is a serious problem that ends up damaging more than your gums—it can attack the bone and tissue keeping your teeth in place. Translation: periodontal disease could cause you to lose your teeth. Yikes!

Symptoms of periodontitis include gums that are infected, inflamed, and bleed easily. You might also notice that your gums are tender and swollen, and they’re moving away from your teeth. Plus, your teeth might even separate or become loose. Other symptoms include a bad taste in your mouth and halitosis. Scary stuff, indeed.

What you can do: It’s time to see your dentist. Treatments for periodontitis include root planing, scaling, and antibiotics. If advanced, dental surgery might be recommended. For these reasons, experts recommend taking steps to prevent this problem before it occurs.

Interesting fact: If you smoke, you might be at a greater risk of developing periodontal disease, thanks to the toxins in the smoke. Just one more reason to quit!

Another Health Problem Might Be to Blame

There are several health conditions that could make you more susceptible to bleeding gums. These include diabetes, leukemia, Von Willebrand disease, hemophilia, scurvy, and thrombocytopenia.

Certain nutritional deficiencies could also lead to oral health problems. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin K or vitamin C, for example, you might notice that your gums bleed easily.

What you can do: If your gums bleed and your dentist has difficulty pinpointing the cause, it’s a great idea to talk to your physician to determine if another condition is the culprit. If you’ve been diagnosed with a health problem that may lead to bleeding gums, letting your dentist know is a smart move. To avoid nutritional deficiencies, experts recommend eating a varied diet full of natural foods, and you can also consider taking supplements, if necessary.

Interesting fact:Some medications cause your gums to bleed as a side effect. Blood thinners are one example. Other potential offenders include anticonvulsants, immunosuppressants, blood pressure medications, and medicines that cause dry mouth. So be sure to let your dentist know about any medications that you’re taking.

When Is It Time to Worry?

Sure, bleeding gums might indicate that there’s a more serious problem that needs to be addressed by your dentist or doctor. But there are instances when gums bleed for totally benign reasons, such as:

  • Brushing too aggressively
  • Using a toothbrush that has stiff or abrasive bristles
  • Establishing a new flossing routine that your gums aren’t used to yet
  • Wearing improperly fitted dentures
  • Eating foods that scratch the gums

In all of these instances, the bleeding should be temporary, so you don’t need to stress—but if you have any doubts, talking to your dentist is your best bet, of course.

On the other hand, if you notice that your gums bleed regularly, and there’s always some blood on your floss and/or toothbrush, no matter how gentle you are or how soft the bristles are, you might have one of the conditions discussed above. Making an appointment with your dentist will help you get all of the answers and treatments that you need to heal those delicate gums.

Work with Your Dentist to Keep Your Gums Healthy!

One of the simplest ways to avoid bleeding gums is by following a strict oral hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing, rinsing with mouthwash, and seeing your dentist for checkups. And if you have the right dental insurance, you’ll never have to miss an appointment or a professional cleaning ever again, so you can take the right steps to keep those gums clean and strong for many years to come.


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