Why are my gums bleeding? Is it normal and what should I do?

Gum disease is a common oral health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. One of the most noticeable symptoms of gum disease is bleeding gums. But why do gums bleed, and why are they sometimes swollen?

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that grow in the mouth. These bacteria form a sticky film called plaque on the teeth and gums. If plaque is not removed regularly through brushing and flossing, it can harden into calculus, which can only be removed by a dental professional. The buildup of plaque and calculus can irritate the gums, causing them to become red, swollen, and tender.

If left untreated, gum disease can progress to a more advanced stage called periodontitis. This condition involves the destruction of the gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Why do my gums bleed?

Bleeding gums is one of the very first signs of gum disease. When the gums become inflamed, they may bleed when brushed or flossed. This bleeding occurs because the gums are more sensitive and prone to injury when they are inflamed.

Other causes of bleeding gums besides gum disease

Bleeding gums can also be a sign of other health issues, such as:

  • Brushing too hard: If you brush your teeth too hard or use a toothbrush with hard bristles, you can irritate your gums and cause them to bleed.
  • Vitamin deficiency: A lack of vitamin C or vitamin K can weaken your gums and cause them to bleed.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as blood thinners, can cause your gums to bleed more easily.
  • Hormonal changes: Women may experience bleeding gums during pregnancy or menopause due to hormonal changes in their bodies.
  • Gum injury: If you accidentally injure your gums, such as by biting down on something hard or getting hit in the mouth, they may bleed.
  • Mouthwash use: Some mouthwashes can irritate the gums and cause them to bleed, especially if you have sensitive gums.
  • Ill-fitting appliances: Dentures, partial dentures, aligner trays, or retainers could cause bleeding gums if they do not fit properly

Swollen gums are also a common symptom of gum disease. Inflamed gums can become puffy and tender, and may even appear to be receding from the teeth. Swollen gums can make it difficult to brush and floss properly, which can worsen the condition.

What should I do?

Preventing gum disease is crucial for maintaining good oral health. Regular brushing and flossing, along with routine dental cleanings, can help remove plaque and calculus and prevent gum disease from developing. If you already have gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings or other treatments, such as scaling and root planing or gum surgery.

If you're concerned about your oral health, it might be worth looking into saliva testing, such as the peri oral health test. This type of testing can determine if you have elevated levels of the key bacteria that cause gum disease. With this simple saliva test, you can get a better understanding of the bacteria in your mouth and whether you're at risk for gum disease. By identifying these bacteria early on, you can take steps to prevent or manage gum disease before it becomes a more serious problem.

About Dr. Kantor

Alexandra Kantor is a prominent dentist and entrepreneur, known for her contributions to the dental industry. With over 10 years experience as a practicing dentist, she has gained a deep understanding of her patient's oral health and overall well-being. In 2022, Dr. Kantor founded peri, an at-home saliva test that specializes in analyzing key bacteria within the mouth. Dr. Kantor holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Indiana School of Dentistry and is dedicated to promoting oral health through advanced technology.