If you notice a bit of red on your dental floss or after brushing your teeth, you may not be too concerned. And, honestly, if it happens incredibly rarely, it’s generally nothing to worry about – especially if you were in a hurry when brushing or flossing and not being careful with delicate gum tissues. On the other hand, if your gums bleed, this is generally a sign that there’s an underlying issue and should be addressed. Dr. Hamby, a leading Fuquay-Varina dentist, is sharing what causes your gums to bleed and what can be done to fix the concern.
Plaque and Tartar Build Up Around the Gumline (Gingivitis)
The most common cause for bleeding gums is inflammation caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar around the gumline. Bacteria feed on plaque and if it’s not removed, it can irritate the delicate gum tissue, causing swelling. Because the tissues are irritated and swollen, they will bleed more easily, especially when you’re chewing rough or crunchy food, brushing, or flossing.
Remove plaque by regularly brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. We would also recommend using an antibacterial mouth rinse or warm salt water rinse while the area is inflamed to help your gums clean and avoid any infection or abscess.
Severe Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
While gingivitis is common, generally mild, and easily treatable, periodontitis is what occurs when your gingivitis goes untreated. This is a serious gum condition that damages the gum tissue and can deteriorate the bones that support your teeth. Over time, you may notice your teeth growing loose or changes in your bite pattern. If left untreated, you’re at a higher risk of a dental abscess, tooth loss, and chronic bad breath.
Incorrectly Using or Using the Wrong Dental Tools for Your Mouth
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily are necessary, but making sure you’re using the proper tools is just as important. Using a toothbrush that has hard or medium-hard bristles can irritate and inflame the gums, causing them to bleed as well as wear away tooth enamel. An outdated toothbrush with frayed bristles can also damage your gums and even deposit bacteria back to these delicate tissues.
Even if you’re using the proper tools – a soft-bristled brush and a waxed floss that glides more easily between your teeth – using them incorrectly can cut or damage, leading to bleeding gums. When you brush, brush in a gentle, circular motion with the bristles pointing at a 45-degree angle downward on your top teeth and a 45-degree angle upward on your bottom teeth. You’re able to clean away plaque without irritating the gum tissue.
When you floss, hold the floss tightly against the side of the tooth and gently glide it down the tooth and back up. Don’t rub or press the floss into your gums as that can cut or bruise them, causing them to bleed. If you’ve only recently picked up flossing, it’s normal to bleed a small amount for a few days as the gums may not be used to it and should stop soon.
Vitamin C boosts your immune health, helps your tissue repair, and aids in healing. Lack of this antioxidant can lead to irritability, weakness, and swollen, bleeding gums. In extreme cases, a lack of vitamin C leads to scurvy which can also cause bleeding gums.
Vitamin K boosts your body’s ability to clot to naturally stop bleeding. If you don’t get enough vitamin K or your body doesn’t absorb it, you may notice your gums bleed more easily and heavily. Green, leafy vegetables, kiwi, blackberries, chicken, and pork chops are all great options.
Pregnancy and Medical Conditions
Pregnancy gingivitis is a very common issue for pregnant people. The hormonal changes and added blood volume makes your gums more susceptible to irritation from plaque, which leads to bleeding. Fortunately, as long as you brush, floss, and keep up with your checkups, the issue resolves after having the baby.
Bleeding gums may also be a sign of diabetes, leukemia, or thrombocytopenia. These three diseases all affect how your body heals, so any rough brushing or flossing that can damage your gums can lead to more prolonged bleeding.
Schedule a Dental Checkup Today
If you have experienced bleeding gums, it should be addressed by a dentist as soon as possible. To learn more about our family dental center and book an appointment, reach out to us today at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below to get started.