Are you wondering, “Why are my gums bleeding?” and whether you need treatment? While some consider bleeding a regular part of brushing and flossing, it shouldn’t be a typical occurrence in your oral hygiene routine.
Occasionally, the gum tissue will bleed from improper brushing and flossing techniques, such as brushing too hard. In many cases, bleeding gums are caused by an underlying condition that needs treatment, such as gingivitis.
Let’s explore the most common causes of bleeding gums, when it is a sign of a deeper problem, and learn what you can do to treat them.
Common Causes of Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums can have innocuous causes, such as just brushing your teeth too hard or using a toothbrush with stiff bristles. Your gums may also bleed if you just started flossing, but this should get better over time. Gum tissue can also bleed if you take medications like blood thinners, you have faulty dental work, or your dentures don’t fit well.
However, the usual cause of bleeding gums is gingivitis.1 Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue and is one of the most common forms of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become irritated, red, or swollen and bleed when you brush or floss.
If gingivitis progresses, it can lead to periodontal disease (periodontitis), a severe and long-term gum condition that can damage your teeth and underlying bone.
Understanding Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gingivitis is the initial form of gum disease. Its primary symptoms are swollen, inflamed gums, and bleeding while brushing or flossing, caused by the bacteria in plaque buildup on your teeth.
When you neglect to brush or floss your teeth, the bacteria in your mouth form plaque on your teeth, degrading the tooth’s enamel. After 72 hours, plaque may harden into tartar, which forms along the gumline and is more difficult to clean effectively.2 This buildup irritates your gum tissue, leading to the symptom of bleeding gums. Better oral hygiene habits and regular visits to a general dentist can treat gingivitis.
However, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more significant condition that causes the inner layer of the gum and bone to pull away from the teeth, forming dental pockets.3 These pockets can collect food particles and bacteria, causing a more severe infection.
As the immune system tries to fight the bacteria below the gum line, toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque begin to degrade the bone and connective tissue that secure your teeth in your jaw. As periodontitis progresses, the pockets worsen, leading to more gum recession and bone loss. Over time, the damage to the gums and bone allows the teeth to loosen, causing tooth loss.
Causes of Gum Disease
A buildup of plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis, but other factors can make you more susceptible to the disease, including:
- Poor oral hygiene habits, such as not brushing and flossing regularly
- Lifestyle habits, such as smoking cigarettes or other tobacco use
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation
- Medications that cause dry mouth, such as anticonvulsant medications and anti-angina medications
- Illnesses like cancer, HIV
- Genetic predisposition
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Most adults experience gingivitis at some point, but the symptoms may be so mild that the condition is ignored. As it progresses, the symptoms become more pronounced but still be too subtle to notice without the aid of a dentist.
These symptoms include:
- Gums that bleed after brushing or flossing
- Persistently red, swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Deep pockets between the teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Changes in the bite pattern or the fit of dentures
Even without significant symptoms, you can still have gum disease. It may only affect a few teeth, such as the back teeth, which is why it’s essential to visit a general dentist for exams and cleanings.
Treatment from a periodontist is intended to slow the progression and mitigate the effects of periodontal disease.
Get Treatment for Bleeding Gums at Empire Dental Care
Getting treatment for gingivitis in the early stages can prevent it from turning into periodontitis. Periodontitis can be treated using periodontal therapy at Empire Dental Care if diagnosed early. We offer different methods of periodontal therapy in Webster to treat gum disease and slow its progression. Contact us today to schedule an appointment! 585.671.1650