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Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Bleeding Gums

Monday, December 7th, 2015

dentist in cincinnati_gingivitis

Have you ever noticed that your gums are bleeding when you brush or floss?

We’re here to tell you that if your gums are bleeding, it’s not something to ignore. In this blog, we examine why your gums may start to bleed, and when it’s time to give us a call to come in for a visit.

The First Stage of Gum Disease

The first stage of gum disease is Gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue caused by bacteria.

What are the signs of Gingivitis?

Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender gums that may bleed when you brush. Another sign of gum disease is gums that have receded or pulled away from your teeth, giving your teeth an elongated appearance.

The signs of Gingivitis include red and swollen gums, and even blood blisters that have formed in the pocket of your gum tissue. When those blood blisters are broken during flossing or brushing, you then see your gums bleed. Even though this might sound painful, it actually isn’t always associated with pain—but that’s why it’s important to know the signs of early gum disease so you don’t just ignore it or just think you have tender gums.

Does that mean you shouldn’t be flossing if you notice that your gums are bleeding when you do?

Of course it doesn’t mean you should stop flossing! Flossing cleans more than one third of your total tooth surface area, and it also stimulates your gum. If you do have bleeding, don’t stop brushing or flossing…instead, make a visit with your dentist so we can better determine the cause and what we can do to prevent further build-up and decay.

Risk Factors and the Cause of Gum That Bleed

There can be multiple reasons why people can have gums that bleed. If your gums bleed more than just once or you are pregnant and are experiencing problems, it’s time to take note. Give us a call and be ready to let us know of any medications you are on, since medications can result in temporary gum bleeding. You and your dentist can then discuss other risk factors such as your oral habits (tobacco use, etc.) hormonal changes, your diet and nutrition, stress, mouth breathing and more. 

And What Happens If I Do Nothing?

If you ignore your bleeding gums, as time continues, assuming your dental habits also don’t improve, the bacteria in your mouth will continue to grow. The bacteria then damages the gum tissue around your teeth as it continues to thrive. In this stage, the pockets are deeper and the gum disease will worsen.

Remember, if your gum is bleeding, it’s not normal.

You don’t want gum disease—after all, it’s the leading cause of tooth loss. In some cases, as your gum disease worsens, your gums will look puffy or swollen. You can also have a bad taste in your mouth thanks to the pus coming from gum pockets. Last, you might even notice you have bad breath, even directly after you brush! Consistent bad breath can be due to food that gets trapped deep in your gum pockets.

As gum disease worsens, you can even experience pain when you chew. It’s not just a problem in your mouth where the plaque is irritating your gum tissue; gum disease also leads to an inflammatory response throughout your body, putting you at more risk for systemic illnesses.

Don’t Compromise Your Health

In short, flossing, brushing, and coming in for regular dental exams and cleaning is a combination that helps you prevent gum bleeding, gum disease, and losing any of your teeth as a result of that gum disease! This isn’t always easy: in fact, one out of every two adults over 30 has some form of periodontal disease, according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although different for each person and we recommend seeing your dentist for your specific recommendations, here are some tips to consider if you want to boost your oral hygiene:

  • If you only brush and floss your teeth twice a day (morning and night), consider adding in a third brush and floss near or around mid-day.
  • If you seem to brush your teeth too hard (or your dentist has indicated you brush your teeth too hard,) look into a soft bristle or even an electric toothbrush.
  • Start rewarding yourself in some small but meaningful way for consistent flossing and good oral hygiene habits.
  • Avoid cigarettes and tobacco.

Our key takeaway: if your gums are bleeding, you need to know the reason why.

If you were bleeding somewhere else on your body—say your knee or hand—you’d take notice and do something about it…Be sure to take action if your gums are bleeding and let us know right away.