Seeing blood when you rinse after brushing can be startling, to say the least. But bleeding gums are common throughout the population and are an issue that is not generally a serious one for the many people that experience it. For the most part, the causes of bleeding gums are typically simple things that are easily remedied — such as brushing or flossing too hard.
But bleeding gums can also be a sign of a serious health issue that you must address. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both the simple — and more serious — issues that can cause your gums to bleed.
For most people, bleeding gums are caused by rough brushing or flossing techniques or by injuries to the inside of the mouth. But there are some other things that can cause gums to bleed:
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. It is caused by plaque overgrowth at the gumline that can leave your gums red, swollen, and inflamed. If you suspect you have gingivitis, you should see your dentist immediately and have it treated. Untreated gingivitis can progress into much more significant problems.
Gingivitis can progress into periodontitis quickly if you do not seek treatment early. Periodontitis is a serious gum disease that can permanently affect the bones and other tissues that support your teeth. Someone with periodontitis may experience their gums pulling away from their teeth and becoming sore, inflamed, and infected.
Other signs of peritonitis include bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, and loose teeth. Untreated peritonitis can result in the loss of teeth and other health problems, so see your dentist immediately if you suspect you have this condition.
Bleeding gums can be one of the first signs of Type I or Type II diabetes. If you already have a diagnosis of diabetes, bleeding gums can be one of the many issues stemming from this disease. The gums of diabetics may be more prone to bleeding because people with diabetes often have more difficulty fighting infections. Unfortunately, their tissues take longer to heal from wounds, making bleeding gums harder to treat among the diabetic population.
Blood platelets are your body’s natural way to stop the bleeding process. If you have leukemia, your platelet count drops drastically, becoming insufficient to stop bleeding in the event of an injury. In thrombocytopenia, your body does not produce enough platelets to allow for blood clotting, leading to micro-hemorrhages in various parts of your body.
Both of these conditions can be the cause of bleeding gums in vulnerable populations. Other diseases that adversely affect blood clotting capabilities and may present with gum bleeding include hemophilia and Von Willebrand disease.
Vitamins are vital for good health. A lack of certain vitamins, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin K, can lead to bleeding gums.
Vitamin C is important for tissue repair, wound healing, and strong bones and teeth. A lack of Vitamin C can cause gums to swell and bleed. Vitamin K, on the other hand, is important for proper blood clotting. Not getting enough Vitamin K in your diet or through supplements can contribute to bleeding gums.
If you have experienced bleeding gums for any of the reasons we mentioned — even the simple ones — it is always a good idea to see your dentist to ensure that there are no underlying health issues contributing to your irritated gum tissue.
A few things you can do to keep bleeding gums under control in the event you experience an episode include:
As with anywhere on the body where there is a cut or abrasion, you can use clean, sterile gauze in place until the blood flow has stopped. Wetting the gauze first can help it feel more comfortable against the gumline.
An ice compress or an ice cube can help soothe sore, swollen, or bleeding gums, especially in areas that have had an impact injury or abrasion. Ice can also help lessen the inflammation and pain caused by gum disease. Only use an ice compress for ten minutes before taking a break.
Special antibacterial mouthwashes with active ingredients, such as chlorhexidine and hydrogen peroxide, can both treat and soothe bleeding gums, as well as treat and prevent gum disease. They work by killing the bacteria that cause gingivitis and gum irritation and by reducing inflammation.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a salt rinse created by mixing eight ounces of warm water with a half teaspoon of salt until the salt is dissolved. You can then swish the mixture around your mouth and spit the liquid out to calm irritated gums. Saltwater reduces bacteria and can help cuts and abrasions heal faster.
No matter why you think you are experiencing bleeding gums, you should always mention it to your dentist at your regularly scheduled checkup. If the bleeding is unusual for you, cannot be controlled, seems excessive, or is accompanied by any other symptoms, you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
If you are experiencing bleeding gums, you may be worried about your oral health — or your health in general. At Dentists of Whittier, we can assess your teeth and gums and help put your mind at ease. Remember, most of the time, bleeding gums are caused by simple things like brushing or flossing too vigorously or even minor vitamin deficiencies.
For our Whittier patients, we offer flexible appointment times that meet your busy schedule while keeping your oral health in check.
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