Have you noticed that your gums bleed when you brush, floss, and/or eat? If so, you may be wondering why your gums are bleeding and what you should do about it. While bleeding gums are not a dental emergency, they can be a symptom of an underlying dental issue that should be addressed sooner rather than later. While only your dentist can accurately diagnose why your gums are bleeding, here are five possible reasons why:
There are two forms of gum disease that could explain why your gums are bleeding. Gingivitis is the mild form and periodontitis is the advanced form. Generally gums that are bleeding, tender, swollen, and red indicate gingivitis. When properly treated, gingivitis can be reversed. Without treatment, however, gingivitis can advance into periodontitis, a more serious infection. Since bleeding gums can indicate gingivitis or periodontitis, it is important to see your dentist sooner rather than later so that you can receive the necessary treatment. This is because severe gum disease can have several oral health consequences, such as tooth loss.
Aggressive Brushing or Flossing
The way you brush and floss can also be a potential reason why your gums are bleeding. The point of brushing and flossing is to remove dental plaque, which is extremely soft. However, sometimes people think that brushing or flossing more aggressively can remove stains and tartar. Unfortunately this is not the case since both stains and tartar can only be removed by your dentist using special tools. Instead, aggressively brushing or flossing can cause gum irritation, which can lead to bleeding gums and gum recession. It can also cause the tooth enamel to erode faster or become damaged. If your dentist does not find gum disease, they may ask you about your brushing and flossing habits.
Oral Hygiene Changes
Another reason why your gums may be bleeding is also due to your brushing and flossing habits, specifically any changes with these habits. For example, people who stop flossing and then suddenly start again often notice their gums bleeding. Others notice that their gums will start bleeding after they start using a new toothbrush that may be stiffer than their old toothbrush. In both cases, your gums may be bleeding simply because they take time to adjust to the changes in your oral hygiene routine. If this is the cause, then your gums should stop bleeding within a week.
Although medications can effectively treat a range of medical conditions, one main downfall is the side effects they can have. When it comes to your oral health, you may experience bleeding gums if you are currently taking blood-thinning medications such as heparin, warfarin, or aspirin. Depending on how severe the bleeding is, you may need to speak to your primary care doctor about making some adjustments to your medication.
Your gums may also be bleeding due to something known as pregnancy gingivitis. This can happen due to the various hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Some of these hormonal changes make the mouth more sensitive to bacteria, which increases the risk of developing inflammation and gum disease. At a glance, pregnancy gingivitis can cause swollen, tender, and red gums that bleed. However, it can also have an effect on the pregnancy and delivery, so it is important to have pregnancy gingivitis treated as soon as possible.
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.