You’re brushing your teeth and notice a bit of pink when you spit out the toothpaste. Or perhaps, you spot some blood on your dental floss. Noticing that your gums bleed when you brush or floss can be alarming — while the occasional, small amount of blood may not be a cause for concern, you shouldn’t ignore the problem if your gums are bleeding consistently. There are a variety of reasons that gums may start to bleed during brushing. While some bleeding is temporary and not a reason for alarm, bleeding from the gums can sometimes have a more serious cause. Changing your oral care routine can also make your gums bleed, at least at first. We take a look at the possible causes of bleeding gums, and some solutions to stop the bleeding.
- Gingivitis – Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Plaque on your teeth and at the gum line that is not removed by brushing and flossing can infect the gums and lead to the symptoms of gingivitis. Gingivitis is usually a painless condition and bleeding gums may be the only symptom. Some other signs may include: swollen, red or tender gums; persistent bad breath or taste; teeth that are loose; and a change in the way your teeth fit when you bite.
- Medications – Certain medicines also increase the likelihood that your gums will bleed. Some over-the-counter pain relievers, like aspirin, thin the blood and can therefore increase bleeding. These medications decrease the blood’s ability to clot, which can lead to easier bleeding. It’s also possible for a prescription medication to cause gum bleeding. If that is the case, your doctor might prescribe a different dose or a different medication altogether. Always talk to your doctor if you think a medication is causing side effects, even if the side effect seems mild.
- New Flossing Routine – Changing your flossing routine can also lead to bleeding gums. For example, if you haven’t remembered to floss in a few days or if you have begun to floss more frequently to help remove food and plaque from between your teeth, then you may notice some bleeding. This should clear up within a week.
- New Toothbrush – Switching from a soft-bristled toothbrush to a firm brush may also result in gums that bleed. The harder bristles may irritate the gums which are used to a softer touch.
- Pregnancy Gingivitis – Some pregnant women experience swollen gums and bleeding during brushing. This is known as pregnancy gingivitis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy alter the body’s response to the bacteria that causes gum disease. Symptoms typically resolve after pregnancy. A dental checkup and regular brushing and flossing can help to prevent gum problems from becoming worse.
- Take better care of your teeth – One of the biggest causes of bleeding gums is plaque buildup along the gum line. When you don’t remove plaque in a timely manner, it hardens into tartar, a calcified material that plaque adheres to and continues to irritate the gums. This causes them to bleed and can progress into more advanced forms of gum disease. The best way to reduce plaque buildup and your risk for bleeding gums is to amp up your oral care routine. Remember to brush twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. Floss at least once a day as well; gums can sometimes stop bleeding with regular flossing. And of course, seeing your dentist on a regular basis – not just when you have a problem or concern – is also a must to keep your mouth in the best shape.
- Take a look at your oral care tools – If you do brush and floss regularly and see your dentist semiannually as recommended, your oral hygiene care tools could be the cause of your bleeding gums. Although it might seem that a toothbrush with medium or firm bristles cleans your teeth and gums more deeply or thoroughly, harder bristles usually just cause irritation – which can be why your gums are bleeding. It is recommended to use a toothbrush with soft bristles, which cleans your teeth and gums thoroughly without irritation. In some cases, it might not be the tools that are causing the bleeding, but the way you’re using them. If you’ve been out of the habit of flossing, start again. You might see a bit of blood at your gum line, but remember to always use a gentle hand and avoid pressing the floss against your teeth and gums too hard.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet – What you eat and when you eat it also plays a part in keeping your gums from bleeding. Foods that contain lots of sugar or simple carbohydrates increase your risk for tooth and gum problems, as sugar creates an ideal environment for plaque to form. Commit to a diet that is low in sugar and high in the necessary nutrients found in foods like vegetables. You don’t have to ban sweets altogether. Just remember to eat them in moderation, and brush after these snacks so the sugar doesn’t have time to stick around.
- See Your Dentist – If changing your oral care habits, adjusting your medications, and maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t soothe your bleeding gums, it’s necessary to see your dentist. He will examine your teeth and gums and determine if you have a more serious condition, such as advanced gum disease. Your dentist might also take an X-ray of the teeth and gums. If he believes treatment is needed, such as a deep cleaning or periodontal surgery, you’ll likely visit with a periodontist, who specializes in treating gum disease.
In some instances, bleeding gums are no big deal, but severe cases can warrant professional treatment. With the right diagnosis and personal care, you can put bleeding gums behind you.
If you have any questions about your gums, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist – 716-332-2444.