Problems such as bleeding gums can be a sign that your gums are not being properly cared for and need more attention. While you don’t need to panic if you notice bleeding gums, you do need to take action to help prevent the progression to a more advanced form of gum disease. While caring for your teeth is important, many people forget the value of caring for your gums as part of an important oral hygiene regimen. They are the foundation of a healthy mouth and if you’re not taking care of them, you’re really at risk for oral health issues. Since gums provide important support for your teeth, take good care of them and take action if you notice bleeding gums.
1-in-3 people think bleeding gums are normal. Bleeding gums are not normal! It can be a sign of gum disease. Other signs of gum disease include bad breath, swollen gums, receding gums and loose teeth. In fact, while research shows that one in two Americans have some form of gum disease, approximately only three percent seek professional treatment. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), this difference between the prevalence of gum disease and the low levels of professional treatment can likely be blamed on a lack of understanding of the effect periodontal disease can have on overall health. Some studies suggest that periodontitis may be associated with other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The Most Common Cause
Bleeding gums are most often caused by harmful plaque – and the millions of bacteria in it – found at or around the gum line being left to develop gingivitis. Gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, may require treatment and improved oral hygiene to help eliminate it. If left untreated, bleeding gums and gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis.
If you don’t have gingivitis, but still suffer from bleeding gums, don’t ignore the problem. Bleeding gums can also be caused by bleeding disorders, leukemia, vitamin K deficiency, hormonal changes, scurvy or the use of blood thinners. If you notice bleeding from your gums, it’s best to consult with your dentist or doctor to determine the cause.
Treatments: How to Stop Bleeding Gums
There are many ways to help improve your oral health and help eliminate bleeding gums. Since bleeding gums are mainly due to inadequate plaque removal from the teeth at or around the gum line, starting an effective oral hygiene regimen is a great way to help treat and prevent gum bleeding. Here are some oral hygiene tips that will help you keep your entire mouth healthier and help prevent or reduce gum bleeding:
- Brush Often: Brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush in a circular motion will help stimulate your gums, help prevent bleeding gums and strengthen the tissue that protects your teeth. It is my opinion that a spin toothbrush does a far superior job of plaque removal than the old hand held toothbrushes. It is important to remember to brush often, but gently. Pressing down hard while brushing can do more harm than good. Be sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth; top, front and back of your teeth. The only place you cannot reach with the toothbrush is in between your teeth. That is where flossing comes in to play.
- Floss Daily: Flossing is one of the most important ways to help prevent bleeding gums and maintain good oral health. It removes plaque and food particles that are found between your teeth and may be under the gum line which can lead to bleeding gums. Be sure to use a thin, waxed floss. To get the floss thru the contacts you may need to gently work the floss back and forth until it moves freely below where the teeth touch each other. Then gently rub the floss up and down the sides of the teeth thus removing the plaque. If flossing is new to you, your gums may bleed for a week or two while flossing until your gums get healthier. Flossing at night before bed is the best time.
- Avoid Tobacco: Tobacco use can damage your gums and can also make you far more likely to develop gum disease.
- See a Dentist Regularly: Harmful plaque bacteria can even lead to issues beyond gingivitis like periodontitis, which is a fancy name for advanced gum disease, weakened tooth enamel. The cleaning performed twice a year at your dentist’s office will remove plaque and tartar that can’t be removed at home. This will help prevent bleeding gums and keep your mouth healthy. You should visit your dentist for a professional cleaning and dental exam at least twice in a year. This can help prevent early gum disease from progressing into more serious gum disease.
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: The American Dental Association recommends eating a balanced diet and avoiding between-meal snacking. Also, reducing stress from your life can help prevent gum disease.
- Combine for Best Results: For best results, use multiple products together to keep your mouth, gums and teeth healthy. A comprehensive system such as the Crest Gum regimen features a variety of products that work well together, including Crest Gum Detoxify, Gum Care Mouthwash, Oral-B Electric Toothbrush and Glide Deep Clean Floss. (OK, I’m a Crest fan. My wife is a Colgate fan. Use whatever brand you like.)