You noticed a little pink in the sink after brushing your teeth. Or maybe you noticed blood in your mouth after flossing. What caused your bleeding gums? And is it serious? Gums bleed for many reasons. Some reasons, like gum disease, are serious and warrant a call to your dentist sooner rather than later. Other causes for bleeding gums are less serious. In some cases, you can stop bleeding gums with simple changes to your daily brushing and flossing routine.
Besides serious gum disease, here are ten other reasons gums bleed and how to stop bleeding gums before the problem becomes a bigger issue.
Bleeding Gums Reason #1: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms include tender and swollen gums, and in some cases bleeding gums during brushing and floss.
Gingivitis happens when plaque along your gum line isn’t properly removed. This sticky plaque breeds all sorts of nasty bacteria that infect the gums, causing bleeding and sensitivity. At this early stage, gingivitis can be stopped and reversed before it turns to more serious gum disease.
Prevent or stop bleeding gums caused by gingivitis with proper oral care. Brush and floss regularly and stay on top of your routine dental check-ups.
Bleeding Gums Reason #2: Medications
Another possible cause of bleeding gums is blood thinning medication. Blood thinning medications decrease the blood’s ability to clot, leading to easier bleeding, including at the gumline. Every time you visit your dentist, let her know about any new medications. This helps the dentist identify the cause of bleeding gums and other oral problems.
Your dentist might recommend a different oral care routine to help minimize or stop gum bleeding caused by medication.
Bleeding Gums Reason #3: New Flossing Routine
If your gums bleed after flossing, when they’ve never bled before, the flossing itself could be the cause. If you took a few days off from flossing or increased the rate per week at which you floss, you might notice minor gum bleeding. This gum bleeding should stop on its own after a couple of flossing sessions. If your gums bleed frequently, or every time you floss, visit your dentist.
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Bleeding Gums Reason #4: New Toothbrush
A new type of toothbrush can also cause gum bleeding. If you switch from soft bristles to hard bristles, bleeding is sometimes your gums’ way of telling you to take it down a notch. Most dentists recommend a soft bristled toothbrush, specifically because it is easier on gums. So, if your gums bleed from a hard-bristled toothbrush, heed the warning. After switching back to soft bristles, bleeding along the gumline should stop within a few brushing sessions.
Bleeding Gums Reason #5: Pregnancy Gingivitis
Yep, it's a thing. Increased hormones during pregnancy cause increased blood flow to your gums, making them extra sensitive to plaque and bacteria. This in turn often leads to tender gums and gum bleeding during brushing. Pregnancy gingivitis, and any associated gum bleeding, usually stops shortly after pregnancy.
Bleeding Gums Reason #6: Poor Oral Hygiene Habits
You might be surprised to learn that even a temporary lapse in otherwise stellar oral hygiene sometimes causes bleeding gums. Research shows healthy gums can become bleeding and diseased gums with just one day off proper oral care. Yikes!
Prevent or stop bleeding gums with daily hygiene habits. Brush for two minutes, twice a day and floss daily to keep plaque at bay and prevent swollen, bleeding gums.
Bleeding Gums Reason #7: Poor Diet
Some ingredients in processed foods irritate gums and cause minor gum bleeding. Opt for healthier alternatives instead. Fruits and veggies, along with calcium, vitamins C and D, and magnesium are critical components of oral health. Make sure you get your daily recommended allowances of these nutrients
Bleeding Gums Reason #8: Stress
Living in a constant state of agitation and anxiety compromises your immune system, making it harder to ward off any number of issues, including bleeding gums and gum disease. Stress also causes inflammation in the blood vessels. This breaks down soft tissues in your mouth, further slowing the healing process for bleeding gums. Try reducing your stress levels whenever possible.
Bleeding Gums Reason #9: Misaligned Bite
If your teeth aren’t properly aligned you may develop “bite disease,” which is yet another possible cause of bleeding gums. If your teeth are misaligned, the wrong type of pressure is applied to the wrong places when you bite down or grind your teeth.
These destructive forces affect your teeth, as well as the supporting tissue and bone. If you apply repeated pressure in one spot, the gums recede and the bone deteriorates, creating a prime spot for gum disease and bleeding gums. Talk to your dentist about solutions for an unbalanced bite.
Bleeding Gums Reason #10: Smoking or Vaping
It’s true. Both smoking and vaping increase your risk for oral health problems, including sensitive, diseased, and bleeding gums. Once gum bleeding starts, dangerous bacteria trapped between the teeth and the gumline can get into the bloodstream, causing further complications.
If you are worried about how smoking or vaping affects your oral health, talk to your dentist or doctor about alternatives or programs to help you quit.
Visit Your Dentist for Persistent or Serious Gum Bleeding
These ten reasons for gum bleeding are meant as a guideline. But as with anything related to your oral health, nothing substitutes regular dental checkups. At routine dental appointments, your dentist checks for signs of gum disease and screens for other oral health issues. He helps identify if your gums are bleeding, the causes for your bleeding gums, and a plan to stop it.
If your gums bleed persistently or if you experience ongoing pain association with bleeding gums, don’t wait for your next checkup. When left untreated, bleeding gums leads to more serious oral health problems, so make an appointment with your dentist now if you are concerned.
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This article was last updated October 10, 2019