Everything You Need to Know about Bleeding Gums
You rush through your morning routine, putting on your clothes, combing your hair, and brushing your teeth. But then an alarming sight stops you in your tracks. As you spit out your toothpaste, you notice a few drops of blood in the sink.
You look at your gums, only to see small streaks of blood between your teeth. The initial sight of blood might frighten you, but if you’re like most Canadians, you forget the blood as soon as it disappears down the drain. You wouldn’t ignore blood coming from your leg or abdomen, so you shouldn’t ignore blood from your gums.
Why You Should Take Bleeding Gums Seriously
Bleeding gums often indicate a serious underlying dental or medical condition. Bleeding gums are often the only symptom people can see, so you’ll need to pay attention when you notice blood coming from your gums.
Here are the most common conditions that cause gums to bleed:
Diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis are the most common culprits behind bleeding gums. According to the Canadian Dental Association, 70% of Canadians will suffer from some sort of gum disease during their lifetimes.
- Gingivitis, the most common form of gum disease, occurs when plaque gets trapped underneath the gums. The trapped plaque causes an infection, which leads to red, swollen, painful, bleeding gums.
- Periodontitis is a more advanced and therefore more serious form of gum disease and occurs when gingivitis progresses. In addition to the symptoms of gingivitis, periodontitis can cause tooth loss due to loss of bone support and/or discoloration, well as more serious infections.
Thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, is a condition that hinders the body’s ability to form blood clots. Rather than a scab or plug forming after an injury, wounds continue to bleed. Thrombocytopenia can be a side effect of several conditions, including vitamin deficiency and pregnancy. It also tends to cause bleeding and bruising in all parts of the body, not just the gums.
Because leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells, it might cause your gums to bleed. Leukemia has several other common symptoms, such as bone pain, excessive sweating, fever, and unintentional weight loss. If you notice these symptoms in conjunction with bleeding gums, contact a doctor immediately.
Diseases that Compromise the Immune System
Conditions like diabetes and heart disease affect the immune system, which in turn compromises various parts of the body, including the gums.
Other Contributing Factors
Although bleeding gums can indicate serious problems, your own habits might contribute to your condition. For example:
- Harsh brushing often causes gums to bleed.
- High stress levels weaken the immune system and also inflame the blood vessels. These two conditions increase the likelihood that you’ll break blood vessels in your gums when you brush or eat.
- Tobacco use almost always contributes to bleeding gums. Tobacco products not only weaken the gums, they also hinder the mouth’s ability to heal.
How to Prevent Bleeding Gums
If it is not an injury that is causing your gums to bleed, call your Red Deer dentist and make an appointment for a professional dental cleaning and checkup to stop the bleeding. Once you stop the bleeding, take steps to prevent bleeding gums in the future. Here are a few suggestions:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing don’t just benefit your teeth. They also benefit your gums by preventing plaque and food particles from lodging themselves underneath your gums.
- Brush gently. If you tend to use a heavy hand when brushing, opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush. Or, try an electric brush that doesn’t require you to apply a lot of pressure to your teeth and gums. This change alone could solve your bleeding problem.
- Eat a healthy diet. Just like the rest of your body, your gums require vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy. Eat foods rich in vitamins C, D, and K, as well as calcium and magnesium, to keep your gums in tip-top shape.
- Drink lots of water. Water aids in saliva production, which is essential to the prevention of gum disease and infection.
- Relax. Try to build at least 30 minutes of rest and relaxation into your day. The less stressed you feel, the less inflamed your blood vessels will be and the less your gums will bleed.
- Quit smoking. Instead of taking a smoke break or chewing a piece of tobacco, chew on a piece of sugar-free gum. Sugar-free gum doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, and it also helps keep your teeth and gums clean.
- Follow your dentist and/or dental hygienists recommendations in terms of how to maintain healthy gums with a personalized plan for regular professional treatment which builds on your own commitment to home care.
Keep the information in mind as you make an extra effort to care for your gums, and remember to call your dentist right away if your bleeding persists or becomes severe.