Bleeding gums can be frightening-we have all seen those TV ads that show profusely bleeding gums followed by teeth falling out in the sink! These ads demand attention, don’t they!
Bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. Bleeding gums are caused by a build-up of dental plaque on the teeth due to inadequate plaque removal over time. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth.
Bacteria in plaque produce acids after you eat or drink. These acids can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities and also gingivitis/periodontitis (gum disease). Plaque can also develop under the gums on tooth roots and break down the gums and bone that support and hold teeth in position.
Plaque is full of bacteria and if it is not removed, causes inflammation and irritation of your gums and finally bleeding. This is not harmless and the long-term effects of this inflammation can cause tooth loss.
It’s time to consult your dentist or dental hygienist if your gums bleed-we can help.
Alternative causes of bleeding gums
- Any bleeding disorders such as Haemophilia- Bleeding disorders like hemophilia and leukemia can also increase your risk of bleeding gums.
- Brushing too hard
We recommend the use of a soft or medium bristled brush during tooth brushing as hard bristled brushes can be too aggressive and cause small tears in your gum tissue.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy.
Some women get swollen and sore gums, which may bleed, during pregnancy.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding. This is also called pregnancy gingivitis or gum disease. Thankfully, it is generally reversible or at least controllable without long term effects.
Your dentist and hygienist will be able to help with this and remember dental treatments is safe during pregnancy.
- Ill-fitting dentures or other dental appliances.
People who wear dentures also may sometimes experience bleeding gums. This is more likely when dentures fit too tightly or poorly. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist if dentures or other oral appliances are causing your gums to bleed. They may need to take new impressions to create a better fitting mouthpiece.
- Improper flossing.
Flossing is hugely important in the maintenance of good gum health but the technique can be tricky. Ask our hygienist for the correct method and a demonstration of how to floss and why type of floss is correct for you. Flossing matters!
- Infection, which can be either in a tooth or the gum.
- Leukemia, a type of blood cancer-during our dental health check, we look out for unusual signs of disease that may first show up in your mouth and gums.
- Scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency-thankfully now rare
- Blood thinning medications such as warfarin. Your gums might bleed more often if you take blood-thinning medications. Drugs in this class include warfarin, aspirin, and heparin. Keep us informed of what medications you take when you come in to see us.
Treatment of bleeding gums
Good dental hygiene is the first step to managing bleeding gums.
- Visit your dentist twice per year or as advised for professional cleaning. Your dentist will let you know if you have gingivitis and teach you how to brush your teeth properly. Proper brushing and flossing can remove plaque from your gum line and reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.
- Correct brushing techniques during daily homecare regime. Use a soft toothbrush. It’ll be gentle on inflamed gums, especially if you experience bleeding after brushing your teeth. Medium and hard bristles may be too abrasive for your delicate gums.
- You might also consider using an electric toothbrush. The specially designed brush heads on these toothbrushes can help you to clean your gum line more easily than a manual toothbrush. Talk to your dentist for advice on what type of toothbrush is correct for you.
- Flossing- tooth brushing alone does clean all the surface of your teeth. Toothbrushing cleans three of the five surfaces of your teeth and the correct use of floss or specially designed brushes is necessary for effective cleaning. Ask your dentists or hygienist for advice.
- Your dentist may also show you how to use an antiseptic mouthwash to minimize plaque that forms in your mouth. And a rinse of warm salt water can help soothe swollen gums that bleed easily.
- Sometimes your dentist will be concerned about the status of your gum health and may suggest that you visit our periodontist or gum specialist, Dr Carlos Castillo.
What is a periodontist or gum specialist?
A Periodontist is a dentist who specialises in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal (gum) disease and the treatment of oral inflammation. Our Patient-focused team understands that if you are referred to a Periodontist this can be a very worrying time as the word gum disease and its association with tooth loss can be frightening.
The first thing we assure our patients is that periodontal disease is widespread – in fact, it is the most common disease in humankind and nowadays, in most cases it can be treated.
A periodontist can diagnose the causes and risk factors of gum disease. The aim of this specialist level intervention is to slow down or eliminate the progression of gum disease and reduce the risk to you and your gum health in the future.