If you have noticed blood in the sink while brushing your teeth, you are not alone. Almost all adults experience some degree of bleeding from the gums at some point. A new toothbrush, vitamin deficiencies, or gum inflammation can cause bleeding gums. However, bleeding gums may be a sign of a more serious dental problem. Here is what you should know about bleeding gums and when to be concerned.
What Role Do Gums Play in Oral Health?
Many people overlook their gums, not realizing that they are essential to their overall oral health. The roots of your teeth are anchored in the jawbone, and gum tissues cover the jaw providing soft tissue support for the teeth. Gum tissues work as a support structure for the teeth and protect the roots from exposure to bacteria and debris. Since gums provide support for the teeth, it can affect the tooth’s stability when they are diseased or inflamed. That is why advanced gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss.
What Are Common Causes of Bleeding Gums?A variety of things can cause bleeding gums. Some of the common reasons for bleeding gums include the following:
- Rough or Incorrect Brushing Technique: Most people brush their teeth vigorously, thinking it will get them clean. However, gums are very sensitive and brushing hard may irritate them, resulting in bleeding. You can avoid gum recession and damage by gently brushing your teeth in small circular motions.
- Using the Wrong Toothbrush: Most people buy toothbrushes with hard or firm bristles, thinking it will help clean their teeth more effectively. However, they will cause more damage to the enamel of your teeth and irritate your gums, causing bleeding. It may be best to select medium or soft bristles instead to prevent bleeding.
- Inappropriate Flossing Technique: Flossing inappropriately will cut your gums, leading to bleeding or causing receding of the gums. Ensure that you floss gently and work your way up and down as you follow the natural curve of your tooth.
- Gum Disease: Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in the United States and the major cause of bleeding gums. Gum disease is progressive and needs professional intervention and early treatment to prevent it from getting worse. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which is characterized by bleeding gums and bad breath. When left untreated, gum disease will progress to a condition known as periodontitis, which is linked to serious dental problems that may affect your oral or overall health, including jawbone damage, abscesses, tooth loss, lung infections, and cardiovascular disease.
When Should You Be Concerned About Bleeding Gums?
Bleeding gums may be a sign that something is wrong. Gums are extremely robust and are not easily irritated, even when you chew hard foods. If your gums occasionally bleed, you can promote healing by being mindful of what you eat and maintaining good oral hygiene habits. If your gums are continuously bleeding or if they are sore, red, and swollen, you should see a dentist right away.
Your dentist will perform a thorough exam to check for gum disease. If you are diagnosed with gingivitis, your dental expert may recommend a deep cleaning. They will also advise you on oral hygiene best practices to maintain good gum health. Those with advanced gum disease may need further dental treatment.