Why are my gums bleeding?
You’re brushing your teeth, and you begin to notice that your gums are bleeding or that when you spit, there is blood in the sink. Usually, gums that bleed do not hurt, so many people think nothing of it. This is a common complaint; however, it is almost always a sign that something is very wrong. One of the most common misconceptions about dental health is that it is normal for gums to bleed. But bleeding gums are never normal, and should be a topic you discuss at your check-up.
If you are noticing that your gums bleed easily, there may be a simple cause that is no reason for concern. Unfortunately, bleeding gums can also be a result of an oral condition, making it important that you get to the bottom of it.
- Hard brushing or rigorous flossing
- New flossing habits that your gums are not used to
- Blood-thinning medications
- Gingivitis caused by pregnancy
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Periodontitis, or gum disease
- New dental treatment, such as fillings or crowns, that cause chronic irritation
Gum disease, or medically known as gingivitis and periodontitis, is a bacterial infection of everything that holds the teeth in place – the gums, the jaw bone, and the ligaments. Although cavities have the worst reputation in the dental disease world, it is gum disease that is the #1 cause of tooth loss. Similar to heart disease, gum disease often progresses with no pain or irritation at all until the problem is extremely severe. Gingivitis, which is a more commonly known problem, is simply inflammation of the gums. Periodontitis is the next stage of the disease, and involves actual erosion of the bone that holds your teeth in place.
While built-up plaque is the most common and primary cause of gum disease, there is also the potential for other factors to contribute to its development:
- Hormonal changes: Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease, so changes in hormones during different life stages as well as pregnancy can make gums more vulnerable and therefore prone to inflammation.
- Immune system illnesses: When your immune system is not running at full capacity, your gums may be more sensitive and susceptible to bacterial infections just like the rest of your body.
- Tobacco use: The use of tobacco products makes it harder for your tissue to repair itself and defend against invading bacteria.
- Poor oral hygiene: Gum disease can oftentimes be simply due to not taking proper care of your gums. Without daily removal of plaque, your risk for gum disease becomes significantly higher.
When treating gum disease, Dr. Bassett’s goal is to reduce the inflammation causing the bone loss around your teeth and arrest its progression. Dr. Bassett will assess your treatment based on the level and severity of the gum disease. There are both surgical and non-surgical solutions for gum disease that can range from scaling and root planning and surgical procedures such as grafts and flap surgery. As a very conservative, minimally invasive, and prevention-oriented dentist, Dr. Bassett always recommends the most cost-effective, gentle, and non-invasive options for you before attempting any surgical intervention.
The best way to prevent gum disease is proper oral hygiene and a healthy lifestyle, since gum disease is strongly connected to keeping other parts of your body healthy as well. When you make it into Paloma Dental for your regular checkups and cleanings, you have already taken the most difficult step in reducing the progression of your gum disease. Encouraging good oral hygiene at home is one of the most important ways to prevent gum disease and tooth loss. Dr. Bassett is a strong believer in helping people treasure their ability to chew and smile, and is committed to helping you develop these habits to keep your teeth for a lifetime.