Sometimes there are traces of red when biting into an apple. Others discover blood when spitting after brushing their teeth. No matter how bleeding gums are noticed: this is a warning sign, indicating a gum inflammation (gingivitis) or an inflammation of the periodontium (periodontitis). At worst, tooth loss is the outcome.
Healthy gums do not bleed. They are pale pink firm and have a corrugated profile. Diseased inflamed gums however are dark red, soft and sensitive. They bleed easily and smell unpleasant.
What causes bleeding gums
Noticing that your gums bleed when you brush or floss can be alarming. What are the possible causes of bleeding gums? There are different reasons that gums may start to bleed during brushing, some are temporary and some are of more concern. If you are worried about your oral health, then make an appointment with your dentist.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Plaque on your teeth and at the gumline that is not removed by brushing and flossing can infect the gums and lead to the symptoms of gingivitis. When gingivitis occurs, your gums may become swollen, tender and sometimes bleed during brushing. This early stage of the disease responds well to good brushing and flossing habits and regular dental checkups.
There are a list of blood thinning medications which are 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.
New Flossing Routine
Changing your flossing routine can also lead to bleeding gums. For example, if you haven’t remembered to floss in a few days or if you have begun to floss more frequently to help remove food and plaque from between your teeth, then you may notice some bleeding. This should clear up within a week.
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.
Some pregnant women experience swollen gums and bleeding during brushing. This is known as pregnancy gingivitis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy alter the body’s response to the bacteria that causes gum disease. According to the American Pregnancy Association, symptoms should clear up after pregnancy. A dental checkup and regular brushing and flossing can help to prevent gum problems from becoming worse.
Bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis, 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.
What are the potential complications of bleeding gums?
Because bleeding gums can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Heart disease
- Severe bleeding
- Tooth loss
How to stop bleeding gums
You’ve probably worked out by now that there is no instant cure for bleeding gums, but you still may be wondering how to stop gums from bleeding: the best way to treat bleeding gums is by improving your oral hygiene. You might also need to visit your dentist for a thorough dental cleaning, known as scaling, to properly remove all the plaque below the gum line.
If your gum disease is in the early stages, you may be able to reverse it and stop your gums from bleeding by adopting these habits for better oral hygiene and healthy gums:
If you are wondering how to strengthen gums, there are various products which may help stop bleeding, redness or soreness and achieve a healthy gum by targeting the underlying causes like plaque buildup. Keep in mind that these should be used in conjunction with the good oral care habits mentioned above. You may be wondering how to stop gum bleeding immediately, but good gum health habits require daily and consistent effort; a new toothpaste won’t help much if you only brush every other day.
Best electric toothbrush for bleeding gums
Brushing and flossing is the best bleeding gums treatment. If you’re unsure how to brush and floss your teeth properly, don’t feel shy about asking your dentist to show you the correct technique next time you visit. Doing it right can make all the difference to your oral health. People who struggle to clean their teeth properly often find that switching to an electric toothbrush makes a big difference.
Your gums may continue bleed when you first brush with an electric toothbrush – the bleeding may even get temporarily worse. That’s usually just a sign that your improved brushing is working, so keep it up for a few days and you should notice a difference.
How to Floss Properly
If you’ve been to the dentist and he or she doesn’t see any gingivitis or tartar, that it’s possible you may be flossing incorrectly. “To properly floss, take a piece of floss that’s approximately shoulder-width in length (about 18 inches) and wrap it around your index fingers so that there’s about an inch of floss when held tight between your hands. “Then you’ll slide the floss between the teeth. There’s a small triangle of tissue between each of your teeth — pass the floss on one side of the triangle, hugging the tooth by making a small C shape with the floss, gently allowing it to pass just under the edge of the gums until you feel resistance, and slide the floss up and down a few times to scrub the plaque off of the teeth.”
Repeat that same process on the other side of the triangle of tissue before moving to the next tooth. Ideally, you want to use a new section of floss between each tooth to avoid redepositing the bacteria you’re removing.
Home remedies for bleeding gums
Visit the dentist at least once every 6 months for plaque removal. Follow your dentist’s home care instructions.
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.
How Long Before Bleeding Gums Heal?
If you’re starting a new flossing routine, it can take a week or so for your gums to settle down and potentially stop bleeding. If you’re dealing with gingivitis, individual prognosises vary, so it’s best to talk with your dentist first. After talking with your dentist, using an antigingivitis toothpaste — which has been shown to significantly reduce plaque and bleeding gums.
However, if the plaque between your teeth has mineralized and become stuck, you’ll likely need to call in the pros, as you may be dealing with tartar. “no amount of brushing or flossing” will remove tartar, which means you’ll need to have your teeth professionally cleaned at your dentist’s office.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Consult your provider if:
- The bleeding is severe or long-term (chronic)
- Your gums continue to bleed even after treatment
- You have other unexplained symptoms with the bleeding
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums and ask you about the problem. Your dentist will also ask about your oral care habits. You may also be asked about your diet and the medicines you take.
Tests that may be performed include:
- Blood studies such as a CBC(complete blood count) or blood differential
- X-rays of your teeth and jawbone