One of the most frustrating things about dental health is how hard it can be to know something’s wrong. Often, we have cavities or even more serious dental problems and don’t even know it! Every now and then, however, dental problems are all-too noticeable. If your gums start bleeding while you’re brushing or flossing, you definitely notice it.
Upsetting as your bleeding gums may be, they’re also a surprisingly helpful warning sign. Bleeding gums often signal that there’s something wrong with your dental health routine. If you can figure out what that is, you could prevent more serious dental problems before they occur. Here are the four most common reasons why your gums are bleeding, and what you can do about them.
Gingivitis is a very common and minor form of gum disease. It happens when plaque on your teeth irritates your gums, inflaming them. Inflamed gums are sensitive and bleed very easily. You may also notice redness of the gums below the teeth, swollen gums, tender gums, or gum pain. If your gums bleed every time you brush, even after adjusting your technique, then you probably have gingivitis.
If you have gingivitis, don’t panic. It’s very common, and you can treat it relatively easily. First, pay close attention to your dental hygiene routine. Make sure you brush (gently!) twice a day, and floss at least once a day. It will take about two weeks for this new routine to show its full results, but if you clean away the bacteria inflaming your gums every day, the redness and swelling will reduce. It’s important to treat gingivitis early, however, or it could progress into a more serious gum disease called periodontitis. If you’re concerned about your gingivitis, give us a call right away. Professional dental cleaning will effectively remove bacteria and helps restore gum health.
It’s easy to understand how overbrushing happens. You want to make sure you’re doing a good job of cleaning your teeth. You figure (maybe even subconsciously) that the harder you brush, the better. Then, you get in there and smash those bristles down so hard you wear out your gums. You can tell if you’re brushing too hard by taking a quick look at your toothbrush. If the bristles are frayed, bent, or damaged, you’re probably pressing too hard as your brush.
The worst thing about overbrushing? Not only does it traumatize your gums, it’s not even effective! The best way to brush is to hold the brush head at a 45 degree angle to the gumline and gently rub the front and back of your teeth in small, circular motions. Make sure you’re replacing your toothbrush once every three months or so, and after any illnesses. For the best (and safest) results, consider investing in an electric toothbrush. Whatever you do, don’t press the bristles of your toothbrush against your teeth so hard you’re uncomfortable.
If you noticed your gums start to bleed as you floss, don’t panic! Bleeding gums during flossing are very common, especially if you don’t floss regularly. It takes your gums time to heal and to adjust to regular flossing. Until they do, expect some blood whenever you floss. You should stop noticing bleeding after about two weeks of regular flossing. If you don’t, it may be because your flossing technique is too aggressive. It may also be a sign of a more serious, disease-related problem.
Gums bleed during flossing because bacteria and plaque build-up between the teeth has weakened the internal lining of your gums. Luckily, flossing helps with this exact problem. As you clean out the bacteria and plaque between your teeth, the bleeding should diminish and eventually stop. Make sure you’re not flossing too hard, too. Like brushing, the right flossing technique has nothing to do with how hard you’re pushing into your gums. If you’re flossing correctly and regularly and still notice a major bleeding problem, give us a call, as that’s a sign of more advanced gum disease.
Vitamin C deficiency
Did you know that bleeding gums are a sign of scurvy? You know, the old pirate disease! Before you walk the plank: we doubt you actually have scurvy. You might have a similar but much less severe condition, however. Scurvy is an extreme form of vitamin C deficiency. One of vitamin C’s main functions is to help repair tissue. If you’re not getting enough, your body may struggle to repair damaged tissue efficiently. One of the first places you’ll notice this is – you guessed it! – around your gums.
Pirates were afflicted by scurvy after spending months at sea without access to fruits and vegetables. Luckily, you’re (probably) not stranded on a boat right now. Think about your diet. Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, vegetables like peppers and broccoli, and many more foods. You could even take a non-prescription vitamin C supplement. Try switching up your diet, and see if your gums are still bleeding in a few weeks.
Bleeding gums aren’t always necessarily cause for serious concern, but they’re always unpleasant and upsetting. If your gums have been bleeding a lot recently, reassess your dental hygiene and make a positive change. Your mouth will thank you!
If you’re ever worried about the health of your teeth and gums, you can schedule a dental checkup with ImmediaDent any time. We’re always happy to set you on the right path toward dental health.