Red, swollen, bleeding gums are never a symptom to casually brush off. Maybe you were brushing your teeth and realized your gums were bleeding or maybe you saw blood on your floss. In either case, you were probably anxious to stop your bleeding gums quickly!
In this post, we’ll cover:
- The causes of bleeding gums
- How to stop bleeding gums
- When to see the dentist
Causes of Bleeding Gums
Before you try to stop bleeding gums, it’s important to realize why bleeding gums occur. Below is a small sample of conditions that can cause bleeding:
- Pregnancy-induced gingivitis: Hormones can cause pregnant women to experience bleeding gums, but usually this resolves after delivery. It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene throughout pregnancy, including continuing with your regular dental cleanings.
- Vigorous flossing: “Popping” flossing between your teeth can irritate sensitive gum tissue.
- Side effects of medication: Blood thinners, for example, are known to cause gums that easily bleed.
- Using a hard-bristled toothbrush: Not only does this wear down your enamel, but toothbrushes with hard bristles can cause your gums to bleed as well.
- Vitamin deficiency: A vitamin C deficiency, better known as scurvy, can lead to bleeding gums, loose teeth, joint pain, anemia, and slow-healing wounds. Although oral health is affected by scurvy, a vitamin deficiency is better treated by your primary care physician.
What about gingivitis?
Gingivitis is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Curious how gum disease causes bleeding gums? Here’s the scoop: If you have too much plaque on your teeth, it can build up over time and irritate your gums. As your gums become more irritated by the plaque, your gums will start to pull away from your tooth. This is why your dentist measures the pockets of space between your teeth and your gums. Irritated gums will bleed more often.
The good news is that gingivitis is treatable. You can treat gingivitis by working extra hard to remove plaque, and that includes making sure you are flossing properly once each day. To remove plaque around your gum line, take a piece of floss, insert it between your teeth, and gently “hug” your tooth in a C-shape to floss around the gum line. This will help remove plaque around your gum line, which will eventually help reduce bleeding gums. You might also benefit from a water flosser, which is proven to remove plaque around the gum line.
How to Stop Bleeding Gums
Only your dentist can ascertain the cause of your bleeding gums, and this is the first step is stopping the bleeding. Once you learn the cause of your bleeding gums, you can implement a few lifestyle changes to stop the bleeding.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: If your bleeding gums are caused by using a hard-bristled toothbrush, you will likely see an improvement once you switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. Remember to brush with firm but gentle pressure.
- Floss regularly: Not only will this remove plaque, but it can help reduce bleeding by removing the debris and plaque that is irritating your gums. If your bleeding gums are caused by vigorous flossing, you will see your gums heal a few days after using more gentle flossing techniques.
- Use a cold compress
- Try a new toothpaste: Look for toothpaste that specifically formulated to help treat gingivitis. If you need help choosing the right toothpaste, your dentist can make a recommendation for you.
- Use a mediated mouthwash, available by prescription from your dentist
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash: You can find one in your local drugstore, but your dentist may also be able to prescribe you a medicated mouthwash.
- Add more dairy products to your diet: According to an article published in the Journal of Periodontology, individuals who include plenty of dairy products in their weekly menu experienced less gum disease and therefore less bleeding gums. Be sure to add milk, cheese, and yogurt to your grocery list.
- Take any medications as directed: If you have an oral infection, always take your medication as directed. Never stop, start, or alter your dose unless directed to do so by your dentist or doctor.
- Take a nutritional supplement: This should be done under the direction of your physician if your bleeding gums are due to a vitamin deficiency
However, some causes of bleeding gums are not so easily remedied at home. If you need to take a medication that results in sensitive or bleeding gums, the remedy isn’t quite so easy. If you cannot stop taking your medication, you’ll need to look at other ways to stop the bleeding and soothe the gums.
- Try swishing salt water: This helps promote gum healing. Take 1-2 teaspoons of salt and dissolve it into one cup of warm water. Swish and rinse.
- Brush even more gently: This is particularly important if you are on blood thinners and your gums are extra sensitive.
When to See the Dentist
Bleeding gums can be caused by poor oral care hygiene practices (i.e., brushing too hard) or by an underlying medical condition (vitamin deficiency or gum disease). Because of this, it’s always a good idea to receive a proper diagnosis form your dentist. As mentioned earlier, gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, but it is much easier to treat gingivitis than advanced gum disease.
Let Us Help You
Do your gums bleed every time you brush your teeth? Are they red, swollen, and tender? Don’t delay treatment. Get the care you need. Contact us today!