Do your gums frequently bleed when you brush your teeth or eat certain types of foods? The sight of blood originating from your gums can be frightening to say the least, but understanding the root cause of this condition will allow you to better treat and prevent it.
Common Causes of Bleeding Gums
There are a number of different factors which can play a role in bleeding gums. These include…
Changes to Your Teeth Cleaning Routine
Your teeth and gums can be very sensitive to change. By way of example, let’s say you have been using the same toothbrush for a few months and you get a new one at the end of your checkup with us. That night, you are very excited to use your new brush, but look down and see some pink in the sink. In many cases, there is no need to fear. What probably happened was that your old brush was soft-bristled due to use, while the new brush is firm and has scraped against your gums.
Changes to your flossing schedule have the same effect. Take your time to ease into new changes to your routine.
Plaque Build Up at or Around the Gum Line
Also known as gingivitis, this condition is characterized by bacteria which accumulate and thrive around the gums; thus, causing an inflammatory response by the body’s immune system. Unless this plaque is removed, it will harden to form tough tartar, which subsequently leads to further bleeding.
Bleeding gums could be a sign of the jawbone disease known as periodontitis. Not to be confused with gingivitis, periodontitis is a more severe condition in which bacteria makes its way up the side of the teeth to the gum line. Once here, the bacteria can destroy portions of the jawbone, increasing the risk of tooth decay and tooth loss.
Certain Nutritional Deficiencies
Certain types of nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin C and K deficiency, may also contribute to bleeding gums. If you are suffering from frequent bleeding gums, ask your general practitioner to test your blood for levels of these vitamins. If you are low in vitamin C, add more citrus fruits like oranges into your diet. If you are low in vitamin K, try consuming more leafy green vegetables like kale and baby spinach.
Think about if you have started any new medications recently. Blood thinners, which decrease the blood’s ability to clot, may make it seem like you’re bleeding more and for longer. Also some blood pressure medications, anticonvulsants, and immuno-suppressants can lead to inflammation which makes your gums easier to irritate and bleed. Even medications such as antihistamines, sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotics can lead to a decreased amount of saliva. When saliva is in short supply, it is unable to neutralize the acids and wash away food debris, therefore, causing gums to be more susceptible to irritation. Let your dentist and doctor know about any medications you may be on.
Pregnancy and Hormones
It’s a little-known fact that pregnancy can play a role in bleeding gums. When your hormones fluctuate, your gums become more susceptible to sensitivity and bleeding. Pregnant women go through particularly intense hormonal and chemical changes during their term. Sensitivity typically goes away within a couple of months after giving birth, however.
During puberty and even menopause, the increase in sex hormones and blood circulation causes an increase in bleeding. If this seems more often than normal, talk to your dentist and doctor.
While this one may be scary, it is always important to think about the possibility of a deeper issue with the body as a whole. For example, Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells that causes excessive bleeding. Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (commonly referred to as ITP) is a condition in which platelets, which help clot your blood, are in short supply making it hard to stop bleeding once it has started. Bleeding when you brush may be an initial sign of these issues, so be sure to perform a thorough evaluation of symptoms.
Tips For Preventing Bleeding Gums
Below are additional tips to help improve gums that are already bleeding and keep them from bleeding in the future.
- Brush your teeth and gums with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Read more tips about brushing and flossing here.
- Use an ADA-approved mouth rinse.
- Avoid the use of tobacco products.
- If you are deficient in certain types of nutrients, increasing the use of multivitamins can help improve the outcome of your bleeding gums. Make sure your supplements include vitamin C and K, or simply improve your diet with foods rich in these nutrients such as citrus fruits for vitamin C and leafy green vegetables for vitamin K.
- Unless recommended by your doctor, avoid the use of aspirin, ibuprofen or similar blood-thinning drugs.
- Floss between your teeth daily.
Contact Our Little Rock Dentists!
Contact us if you have problems with bleeding gums or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists in Little Rock!