What Does it Mean When Gums Bleed?

In addition to your dental health, the wellness of your gums is very important to your oral and overall wellbeing. Bleeding gums can be a concerning symptom – what does it mean? When you floss or brush and your gums are irritated enough to bleed, you should be aware of the potential causes, so that you can take any necessary steps to improve your oral health.

The most common thing that causes gums to bleed is plaque build-up and can be the first sign of gingivitis. When plaque builds up at the gum line, the gums can become irritated and bleed. If the plaque is allowed to continue to build up, you can develop gingivitis (a disease where the gums are inflamed). If the plaque remains and is allowed to harden into tartar, bleeding may increase and result in periodontitis, which is a more advanced form of disease in the gums and even the jawbone.

Some causes of bleeding gums are not serious. You can cause your gums to bleed if you brush your teeth with too much force or speed, and improper flossing can also be a cause. Dentures and other dental appliances may instigate bleeding gums if they are not fitting correctly and irritating the soft tissues of your mouth. If you are pregnant, your gums may bleed due to hormonal changes.

Other disease and illness can also result in bleeding gums as a symptom or side effect. Bleeding disorders, scurvy, leukemia, and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura can make gums bleed. An infection relating to your teeth or gums may also result in bleeding gums.

If your gums are bleeding when you brush, floss, or even eat, there are some steps to take to treat it:

  1. Be sure to visit your dentist every six months for a regular treatment to remove plaque build-up and clean your teeth.
  2. As you brush, do so gently with a soft-bristle toothbrush, and floss daily to keep plaque from building up between your teeth.
  3. If bleeding persists, soak a gauze pad in ice water and apply it to your gums with slight pressure.
  4. Avoid tobacco and aspirin, since both may aggravate the gums.
  5. If your dentures or other dental appliances are causing sore spots or do not fit, see your dentist.

Featured photo source: Flickr user Shakestercody.

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