When you see blood on your teeth or in your sink, you may naturally feel concerned or even alarmed. However, gums can bleed for a variety of reasons, some more urgent than others. Many causes of bleeding gums have relatively simple solutions once you understand them. Watch out for the following four causes of bleeding gums.
If you don't maintain an effective dental hygiene routine, your gums may fall prey to a condition called gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when food particles and saliva mingle to create a sticky film called plaque. The bacteria attracted to this substance trigger inflammation in the gums, causing them to swell, redden, and bleed under pressure.
While you should brush and floss regularly to avoid gingivitis, the wrong brushing or flossing technique can also make your gums bleed. Brush your teeth firmly but gently, with a soft-bristled brush. Floss thoroughly, but without snapping the floss into your delicate gum tissue. Your dentist can teach you the preferred techniques.
Plaque that hardens into tartar won't come off no matter how diligently you brush and floss. For this reason, you should schedule regular cleanings at your dentist's office. Dental hygienists have access to professional tools that can scrape away accumulated tartar, including tartar that lies out of your reach below the gum line.
Like other parts of your body, your gums need proper nutrition to maintain their strength and overall wellness. If you don't make a point of getting balanced nutrition, you can end up with bleeding gums. Insufficient levels of Vitamins C and K, in particular, can make your gums vulnerable to bleeding issues.
Fortunately, you can correct a vitamin deficiency relatively easily by adding the right foods to your diet. Peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and all kinds of citrus fruits provide generous amounts of Vitamin C. Green leafy vegetables, soybeans, and olive oil can boost your Vitamin K intake. Supplements can also help support healthy gums.
Women can suffer from bleeding gums caused by hormonal fluctuations. Situations such as puberty, menstrual cycles, and pregnancy boost levels of the female hormones progesterone and estrogen. This change causes the gums to overreact to plaque formation by swelling and bleeding. Birth control pills can have a similar effect.
Menopause can also promote bleeding gums, but for different reasons. The drop in female hormone levels triggered by this transition can cause you to produce less saliva, a substance that helps neutralize acids. Without this protective feature, your gums may experience more trouble with plaque-induced gingivitis.
This extra sensitivity to plaque reinforces the need to practice good dental hygiene. Your dentist may also recommend mouthwash to help kill oral bacteria or other products to help you keep a dry mouth lubricated.
Perhaps the most obvious and direct cause of oral bleeding involves acute injuries. A direct blow to the mouth can easily detach teeth from their sockets, severing small blood vessels in the process. The same blow to the mouth could also cause your teeth to cut into your cheeks or other oral tissue, causing blood loss.
If you participate in high-impact sports, such as boxing, wrestling or football, you need to wear a mouth guard designed to protect your teeth and other oral structures from this kind of damage. While you can find generic mouth guards in sporting goods stores and pharmacies, your dentist can create one that provides a more precise fit.
Dr. M. Dawn Harvey, DMD, PC, can evaluate your gums, determine the cause of any bleeding problems you may have, and then administer the right treatment and advice to help you get the issue under control.