Bleeding gums is most often a warning sign, an indicator of a deeper dental issue within your mouth that should not be ignored. Most often, bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease which, when left untreated, can lead to serious long term damage to your teeth and gums, not to mention your overall health.
Here we will discuss what causes bleeding gums and what you should do to help stop this symptom from progressing into more significant problems down the road.
What Causes Bleeding Gums?
Bleeding gums typically present when you brush or floss your teeth. As previously mentioned, one of the most common reasons for bleeding gums is gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. In this stage, excess bacteria and plaque on the teeth and in the mouth cause inflammation at the gum line. In progressively more severe stages of gum disease, gums will continue to bleed as a symptom of infection.
There are, however, other causes for bleeding gums, which can include the following:
- Brushing too rigorously: If you brush your teeth too harshly, this overstimulation of the gum tissue can cause them to bleed even if the gums are in relatively healthy condition. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and use gentle, circular brushing motions when cleaning to prevent tissue disruption.
- Hormonal changes: A shift in hormone levels within the body can cause gums to bleed.
- Infections and Disease: If your body is fighting infection or disease at any level, gums may bleed as a symptom.
- Vitamin Deficiencies: A vitamin deficiency, particularly that of Vitamins C or K, can cause gums to bleed.
More about Gum Disease
Even with these additional causes, there is a high likelihood that if your gums are bleeding, you are experiencing some level of gum disease. It is important that you address any gum bleeding as such until your dental professional rules this out as a possibility so that you are sure to stop the progression of more severe symptoms.
How to Treat Bleeding Gums
Brush and Floss
Although it may seem simple, the first form of defense against bleeding gums and gum disease is brushing and flossing. You should brush your teeth for two minutes a minimum of two times per day and floss your teeth a minimum of once per day. If your gums are already bleeding, using a soft bristled toothbrush and ensuring you are brushing gently along the gum line is important to allow this already compromised gum tissue to heal. If you are just beginning to floss, you may find that simply by initiating a consistent brushing and flossing routine you can see the symptom of bleeding gums subside within a few days to a week after beginning to floss.
Regular Hygiene Visits
See your dental hygienist and receive a dental examination a minimum of twice per year, and potentially more often if you have gum disease. The thorough professional cleaning, combined with at home care, can help you to keep gum disease from progressing further.
Eat a Variety of Whole Foods
Eating a variety of whole foods will ensure you are not lacking in any necessary nutrients required for overall health. When you focus on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and quality proteins, you give your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs to heal itself and fight illness from a systemic level.
Manage Stress Levels
Stress can be a factor in bleeding gums and in overall poor health, as it increases inflammation within your body. Stress also lowers your immune system function. Handling stress and maintaining healthy self-care routines can increase overall system health.
Smoking is not only bad for your overall health, but it is a significant factor in poor oral health. Smoking increases your likelihood of gum disease and prevents your system from absorbing the proper nutrients for fighting illness and infection.
Rinse with Salt Water
A simple salt water rinse can be soothing to your gums and can help relieve inflammation and fight infection. After you brush and floss your teeth, swish and gargle with lukewarm salt water to increase the fight against bleeding gums.
Although bleeding gums are most often a symptom of an underlying oral or systemic health issue, simply by making some adjustments to your routine you can make progress in fighting both the symptom and the cause. If you are concerned about bleeding gums, we at Cooper Family Dentistry are here to help you address this issue and get you back on track to optimal oral health. To schedule an appointment, call our friendly office staff at 501-982-7547 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request here.