Do your gums bleed easily? It might be because of something simple, like using the wrong technique when you brush or floss. Or it could be a sign of a health condition you need to check out.
You may have bleeding gums if you:
- Brush too hard, or your toothbrush isn’t soft enough. Switching from a soft-bristled toothbrush to a firm brush may also result in gums that bleed. Try returning to a soft or medium-bristled brush and talk to your dentist about what toothbrush is right for you at your next appointment.
- Just started a flossing routine, and your gums aren’t used to it yet. Changing your flossing routine can also lead to bleeding gums. For example, if you haven’t remembered to floss in a few days or have begun to floss more frequently to help remove food and plaque between your teeth, you may notice some bleeding. This should clear up within a week.
- Take certain medications, like blood thinners. Blood thinning medications as one of the possible causes of bleeding gums. These medications decrease the blood’s ability to clot, which can lead to easier bleeding. Let your dentist and doctor know about your experience and any medications you may be on.
- Have inflamed gums because you’re pregnant (pregnancy gingivitis.) Some pregnant women experience swollen gums and bleeding during brushing. Hormonal changes during pregnancy alter the body’s response to the bacteria that cause gum disease. These symptoms should clear up after pregnancy. A dental checkup and regular brushing and flossing can help prevent gum problems from worsening.
- Have dentures that don’t fit well
- Faulty dental restorations
Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, or inflammation of your gums. It’s a common and mild form of gum disease, and it’s caused by a buildup of plaque at your gumline. If you have gingivitis, your gums may be irritated, red, and swollen. They may bleed when you brush your teeth.
You can eliminate this problem by taking good care of your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, rinse daily with an antibacterial mouthwash, and see your dentist regularly.
Suppose you don’t take care of your gingivitis. In that case, it can lead to periodontal disease, or periodontitis, a long-term gum condition that damages the tissue and bone that support your teeth.
If you have periodontitis, your gums may become inflamed and infected and pull away from the roots of your teeth. When your gums bleed easily, it could be a sign of periodontal disease. Your teeth may get loose or separate. You could also get bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, a change in how your teeth fit together when you bite, and red, swollen, tender gums. You can lose some of your teeth if you don’t treat periodontal disease.
Bleeding or swollen gums can be a warning sign of type 1 or 2 diabetes. When you have this disease, your mouth isn’t as powerful at fighting germs, so you’re more likely to get infections like gum disease. High blood sugar levels that go along with diabetes make it harder for your body to heal, which can make gum disease worse.
Bleeding gums can be a sign of leukemia, a type of cancer. Your blood platelets help your body stop bleeding. If you have leukemia, your platelet count is low. That makes it harder for you to stop bleeding in different parts of your body, including your gums.
If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth and it doesn’t stop on its own, your gums may be irritated, or you may have thrombocytopenia.
If you have this condition, your body may not have enough platelets to form a blood clot. That can lead to too much bleeding in different parts of your body, including your gums.
Hemophilia or Von Willebrand Disease
If you have bleeding gums or heavy bleeding when you get a small cut or have dental work, it may be a sign of a disorder like hemophilia or von Willebrand disease. With these conditions, your blood doesn’t clot properly, so you may have bleeding gums.
Too Little Vitamin C
This vitamin helps your tissue grow and repair. It heals wounds and strengthens your bones and teeth. If your body doesn’t have enough vitamin C, you may feel weak and irritable. Over time, you can also get swollen and bleeding gums.
It’s rare, but a severe shortage of vitamin C in your body can lead to scurvy, a disease related to poor nutrition. It can make you weak, cause anemia, and lead to bleeding under your skin. Bleeding gums are a typical sign of scurvy.
Lack of Vitamin K
If you notice a lot of bleeding from your gums, it may be because you don’t get enough vitamin K. This vitamin helps your blood clot properly. It’s also good for your bones. If you don’t get enough through your diet or your body doesn’t absorb it well, it can cause bleeding problems.
Bleeding Gums: What Can You Do
Try the following methods to stop gums from bleeding and to prevent the bleeding from coming back again.
Go to your dentist regularly. Visit the dentist at least once every six months for plaque removal. Follow your dentist’s home care instructions.
Brush properly. Brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristle toothbrush at least twice a day. It is best if you can brush after every meal. Also, flossing teeth twice a day can prevent plaque from building up and turning into tartar.
Rinse. Your dentist may tell you to rinse with salt water or hydrogen peroxide and water or a mouth rinse designed to treat gum inflammation. Some rinses contain alcohol, so consult with your dentist prior to using one of these types.
Eat healthily. It can help to follow a balanced, healthy diet. Try to avoid snacking between meals and cut down on the carbohydrates you eat.
Other tips to help with bleeding gums:
- Have a periodontal exam.
- Do not use tobacco since it makes bleeding gums worse. Tobacco use can also mask other problems that cause bleeding of the gums.
- Control gum bleeding by applying pressure directly on the gums with a gauze pad soaked in ice water.
- If you have been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency, take vitamin supplements.
- Avoid aspirin unless your health care provider has recommended that you take it.
- If side effects of a medicine are causing the bleeding gums, ask your provider to prescribe a different drug. Never change your medicine without first talking to your provider.
- Use an oral irrigation device on the low setting to massage your gums.
- See your dentist if your dentures or other dental appliances do not fit well or are causing sore spots on your gums.
- Follow your dentist’s instructions on how to brush and floss so you can avoid hurting your gums.
Bleeding gums can be a sign of a medical or dental condition, which can develop into the more serious stages of gum disease. The best way to find out what is causing your gums to bleed is to see your dentist and dental hygienist.