In the News

05 Mar 2019

Causes of bleeding gums and when to see your dentist

Seeing blood after you brush your teeth can be alarming, but don't panic! You may be able to cure your bleeding gums without having to go to the dentist, depending on the situation. Let's talk about what causes bleeding gums and when you should see your dentist about it.

They may be tiny, but your gums have a big job.

They protect the roots and neck of your teeth from bacteria.Without healthy gums, bacteria can sneak beneath your teeth and cause tissue damage. Eventually, the tissues become too damaged to hold your teeth, thus leading to loose teeth that can even fall out.


What causes bleeding gums?

1. Gingivitis (gum disease)

If you don't brush or floss regularly, plaque builds up in the groove around your teeth. Sometimes you can see the plaque as white or yellowish marks by your gums. As it grows and moves, they irritate your gums causing gingivitis. It's the early stage of gum disease, and its most common symptom is bleeding gums. Other symptoms are red gums, sensitive gums, and bad breath. Luckily this stage is reversible. Your dentist can help scrape away plaque and bacteria. Brushing and flossing keep the bacteria way for good. However, if gingivitis gets worse, your gums may start to pull away from your teeth, leaving space for bacteria to travel into tissues below your teeth. The longer bacteria lives in your tissue, the worse your dental health gets. 


2. Pregnancy

Pregnancy changes your hormones that affect your entire body. Hormone changes can cause "pregnancy gingivitis". Your gums may swell up and become sensitive, causing bleeding when you brush or floss. To avoid oral health issues, talk to your dentist about how to care for your teeth when you're pregnant.


3. Medicines

The medicine you take can make your gums more likely to bleed, even if you have excellent brushing and flossing habits. Blood thinners and aspirin keep your blood from clotting. These medicines especially increase your risk of bleeding gums and may cause your gums to bleed for a long time after brushing. You should tell your dentist if you're taking these medicines. 


4. A new oral health routine

If you started a new oral health routine, such as brushing or flossing more often, your gums may bleed until your mouth gets used to the new habits. Brushing and flossing clear away bacteria and plaque from your gums. As you practice these good habits, your gums should bleed less until it eventually stops altogether. Also, brushing too hard can irritate your gums and cause them to bleed. Always use a gentle motion when brushing and consider getting a brush with soft bristles. 


When to see your dentist...

Sometimes if you practice good habits, your gums will get better without a visit to the dentist. But if your gums bleed regularly, such as every time you brush your teeth for a few weeks, I encourage you to make an appointment! You should also call your dentist if your gums bleed for a long time after you have stopped brushing or flossing. I also recommend that you see your dentist if you experience these symptoms:

  • red/swollen gums
  • sensitive gums
  • gums that seem to be separating from teeth -- leaving a gap between the gum and the tooth
  • frequent bad breath or taste in your mouth
  • loose teeth as an adult
  • changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align

The sooner you see your dentist about signs of gum disease, the more likely you'll be able to reverse the condition.


-- Jackie