Bleeding Gums: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
Bleeding gums are a common sign of gum disease. The gums are the soft tissue that surround your teeth. They are essential for supporting and protecting the teeth. Healthy gums are usually light pink in color, but due to aging or disease, it may become darker and recede.
Bleeding from the gums can be caused by many factors, but it is mainly due to a build up of plaque at the gum line. Plaque is the sticky, colorless film of bacteria made from leftover food particles and salvia that mix in your mouth. If you don’t brush properly after meals, it begins to form and build up on your teeth. This will lead to a condition called gingivitis or inflamed gums.
If plaque is not removed through regular brushing and dental appointments, it will harden into what is known as tartar. This will lead to increased bleeding and a more advanced form of gum and jawbone disease known as periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause tooth loss and may affect your overall health.
Other possible causes of bleeding gums include:
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy – Women who are pregnant may have bleeding gums due to a spike in their hormone levels. Even with good oral hygiene, gums may continue to bleed.
- Anemia – This condition can cause excess bleeding due to the inability of the blood to clot.
- Leukemia – Some diseases, like leukemia, may be associated with bleeding gums. If you are experiencing persistent bleeding from the gums or rectum, along with bruising of the skin and bone pain, then be sure to consult your doctor immediately.
- Medications – Certain medications such as blood-thinning drugs can cause people to bleed easier, including gums bleeding.
- Vitamin C and K deficiencies – A lack of vitamin C can lead to a medical condition called scurvy, which results in gum inflammation and bleeding. Also, a vitamin K deficiency can lead to bleeding in any part of the body, including the gums.
Symptoms of Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums can be a result of gum disease as previously mentioned. Symptoms associated with gum disease or gingivitis may include the following:
- Swollen gums
- Red or sore gums
- Receding gums
- Formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums
- Gums that bleed during and after brushing teeth
- Gums that are tender to the touch
- Loose, or shifting teeth
Bleeding Gums Treatment
The treatment for bleeding gums can vary depend on the underlying cause. Regardless of the cause, good dental hygiene is fundamental. Be sure to brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristle toothbrush to avoid banging the toothbrush into the gums.
It is important to visit the dentist at least once every six months for plaque removal. Your dentist will let you know if you have dental problems and teach you how to brush your teeth properly. Proper brushing and flossing can help preventing plaque buildup in your gum line, and thus reduce your risk of developing gum disease.
If you have gum disease, scaling is the first approach for treating periodontal disease. This procedure is a deep cleaning to remove bacterial plaque and tartar. Scaling involves scraping tartar from above and below the gum line. Your dentist will reevaluate the success of this treatment in follow-up visits. If deep periodontal pockets and infection remain, periodontal surgery may be recommended.
How to Prevent Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums can be easily prevented through proper dental care. Here are some best ways to prevent bleeding gums and keep your gums healthy.
- Brush at least twice a day. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush in a circular motion will help stimulate the gums, prevent bleeding gums and strengthen the tissue that protects your teeth.
- Floss daily. Floss your teeth everyday to prevent a plaque buildup between your teeth.
- Drink water after meals. Drinking water after eating can help wash away food particles trapped in your teeth, making it less likely for bacteria to form.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet. A healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables can reduce the likelihood of bleeding gums and keep your gums teeth healthy. Remember to eat at least one serving of fruits or vegetables daily. Also, eat foods rich in vitamin C, calcium and magnesium, as lack of these nutrients can cause bleeding and affect your gum health.
- Avoid sugary foods or beverages. Sugary foods are highly acidic that promote bacteria growth. By reducing the consumption of sugary foods can help reduce the risk of gum disease and prevent bleeding gums.
- Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco products. Smoking is a major risk factor for periodontal disease. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can cause gum recession and tooth loss. The risk of periodontal disease increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Smoking cigars and pipes carries the same risks as smoking cigarettes, according to Colgate.com
- See a dentist regularly. Check with dentist at least once every 6 months for regular plaque and tartar removal. This will help prevent bleeding gums and keep your mouth clean.