Though not necessarily abnormal, bleeding gums should prompt further investigation. Bleeding from the gums can have several causes, some of which are easily remedied and others that may require dental care to correct. If you notice blood after brushing or flossing, or if the gums bleed randomly throughout the day, look into the various causes and contact a dentist to schedule an evaluation.
Some causes of bleeding gums can be easily remedied at home and with just a few lifestyle changes. Others warrant a trip to the dentist and may necessitate extensive and ongoing dental care. Below are the top causes of irritated gums, ranging from least to most severe.
New flossing routine
Flossing is an essential part of any oral hygiene routine, but that does not necessarily mean the gums will take to it right away. In fact, gums that have only rarely or never been flossed before are more sensitive and less healthy than regularly flossed tissue. As a result, it is not uncommon for the gums to bleed during the first couple of flossing sessions. It is also not uncommon for an individual’s gums to bleed following even a brief break in the flossing routine.
Vigorous brushing or brushing with a new toothbrush
Brushing too hard can rub the gums raw and cause the tissue to bleed. So can brushing with the wrong type of toothbrush, such as one with too-hard bristles, or brushing with a new toothbrush. Individuals who have new toothbrushes should brush extra gently for the first couple of uses.
Stress takes a toll on several aspects of the body, including the mouth. Stress triggers the body’s fight or flight response, which in turn triggers inflammation. The inflammation can extend to the soft tissues in the mouth and cause the gums to swell and bleed. If the stress or anxiety continues for long periods, the soft tissue may be slow to heal, which can result in more severe oral health issues.
There are several medications that thin the blood and wreak havoc on individuals’ dental health. These medications decrease the blood’s ability to clot, which can lead to excessive bleeding. If a person’s gums are already sensitive, the tissue may be more prone to bleeding during brushing, flossing, or even eating.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is characterized by gums that are red, swollen, and tender. If a person has gingivitis, the tissue in the mouth may bleed during brushing and flossing. In fact, bleeding is often the first sign that something is wrong.
In the gingivitis stage, gum disease can be reversed with a healthy diet and a strict oral health care regime. However, if a person ignores gingivitis, the disease can progress to periodontitis, which affects the bone structure and causes tooth loss.
Most causes of bleeding gums are easy to get under control. However, the final cause, gingivitis, is more serious and requires the intervention of a dental professional. Individuals who suspect they have gum disease should consult with a dentist right away.
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