Do your gums bleed easily? It might be because of something simple like using the wrong technique when you brush or floss. Or it could be a sign of a health condition you need to check out.
Bleeding Gums Causes
You may have bleeding gums if you:
- Have gingivitis, a disease that causes inflammation of the gums
- Brush too hard or your toothbrush isn't soft enough
- Just started a flossing routine and your gums aren't used to it yet
- Take certain medications, like blood thinners
- Have inflamed gums because you're pregnant (pregnancy gingivitis)
- Have dentures that don't fit well
- Have faulty dental restorations
Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, or inflammation of your gums. It's a common and mild form of gum disease, and it's caused by a buildup of plaque at your gumline.
If you have gingivitis, your gums may be irritated, red, and swollen. They may bleed when you brush your teeth.
You can get rid of this problem by taking good care of your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, rinse daily with an antibacterial mouthwash, and see your dentist regularly.
If you don't take care of your gingivitis, it can lead to periodontal disease, or periodontitis, a long-term gum condition that damages the tissue and bone that support your teeth.
If you have periodontitis, your gums may become inflamed and infected and pull away from the roots of your teeth.
When your gums bleed easily, it could be a sign of periodontal disease. Your teeth may get loose or separate. You could also get bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, a change in how your teeth fit together when you bite, and red, swollen, tender gums.
If you don't treat periodontal disease, you can lose some of your teeth.
Bleeding or swollen gums can be a warning sign of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
When you have this disease, your mouth isn't as powerful at fighting germs, so you're more likely to get infections like gum disease. High blood sugar levels that go along with diabetes make it harder for your body to heal, which can make gum disease worse.
Bleeding gums can be a sign of leukemia, a type of cancer.
Your blood platelets help your body stop bleeding. If you have leukemia, your platelet count is low. That makes it harder for you to stop bleeding in different parts of your body, including your gums.
If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth and it doesn't stop on its own, your gums may be irritated, or you may have thrombocytopenia.
If you have this condition, your body may not have enough platelets to form a blood clot. That can lead to too much bleeding in different parts of your body, including your gums.
Hemophilia or von Willebrand Disease
If you have bleeding gums or heavy bleeding when you get a small cut or have dental work, it may be a sign of a disorder like hemophilia or von Willebrand disease.
With these conditions, your blood doesn't clot properly, so you may have bleeding gums.
Too Little Vitamin C
This vitamin helps your tissue grow and repair. It heals wounds and strengthens your bones and teeth.
If your body doesn't have enough vitamin C, you may feel weak and irritable. Over time, you can also get swollen and bleeding gums.
It's rare, but a severe shortage of vitamin C in your body can lead to scurvy, a disease related to poor nutrition. It can make you weak, cause anemia, and lead to bleeding under your skin.
Bleeding gums are a typical sign of scurvy.
Lack of Vitamin K
If you notice a lot of bleeding from your gums, it may be because you don't get enough vitamin K.
This vitamin helps your blood clot properly. It's also good for your bones. If you don't get enough through your diet or your body doesn't absorb it well, it can cause bleeding problems.
Gums and Brushing Technique
In the quest to keep teeth clean, you might be tempted to brush teeth as vigorously as you can. Gums are made of delicate tissue, though, so brushing the wrong way could damage them.
Whether you opt for a manual or electric toothbrush, choose one with soft nylon bristles that have blunted ends. Even though you can find brushes with medium or hard bristles, they may damage the enamel on your teeth or cause red and swollen gums.
When you brush, make sure you use gentle, circular motions to massage and clean the teeth and gums. While many people use a back-and-forth motion, this motion can irritate and damage your gums, making them sore and more likely to bleed or recede.
Gums and Flossing Technique
We all know the importance of flossing every day to help remove plaque from places where your toothbrush can't reach. To make sure that your healthy habit isn't causing swollen or bleeding gums, be gentle when you floss. Rather than forcing the floss between your teeth, carefully slide it up and down, following the curve of each tooth.
Gums and Canker Sores
Common culprits behind painful gums are canker sores, or mouth ulcers. These painful sores can develop anywhere inside the mouth, including on the gums, and often have a whitish center with red edges. You may have one canker sore at a time, making only one area on your gums sore, or you may have multiple sores at the same time throughout your mouth.
While researchers don't know what causes canker sores, there may be bacterial or viral involvement. People with certain autoimmune diseases may also be more likely to have gum problems caused by canker sores. Canker sores often come back over time and are not contagious.
Gums and Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy can have a number of unpleasant side effects, including painful, swollen, and bleeding gums. Many people undergoing treatment for cancer contend with stomatitis, which causes the development of painful sores and ulcers on the gums and throughout the mouth.
Gums and Tobacco Products
Using cigarettes and other tobacco products can be extremely damaging to your gums. People who smoke are far more likely to develop gum disease. You may find that your smoking habit gives you a number of gum problems, from sensitive gums that bleed to painful sores.
Gums and Hormones
Some women find they have gum problems during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. The rise in hormones during puberty can heighten blood flow to the gums, making them red, swollen, and sensitive. For women with menstrual gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and more likely to bleed shortly before each menstrual period. These problems typically subside after the period begins. Pregnancy gingivitis typically starts in the second or third month of pregnancy and continues through the eighth month, causing sore, swollen, and bleeding gums. The use of oral birth control products may cause similar gum problems. Though uncommon, some women going through menopause may find that their gums become extremely dry and therefore sore and likely to bleed.