You’re cleaning your teeth and you spot a smear of blood on the toothbrush, mixed in with the foamy toothpaste. No big deal, you think. Maybe you have a couple of small mouth sores, or perhaps your toothbrush nicked a spot on your gum. While both of those are possible, it’s not to ignore bleeding gums for more than a day or two, because they could be a sign of something serious.
Causes of Bleeding Gums
Some causes of bleeding gums include brushing too hard and improper flossing. These are fairly benign, and may not give you too much to worry about. It’s slightly more concerning to think you could be having hormonal changes due to pregnancy, a badly-fitting denture or dental appliance or an infected tooth. All of these require medical or dental attention. The problem could also be caused or made worse if you’re taking blood thinners for a heart condition, have a blood disease or various types of vitamin deficiency.
The most common cause of bleeding gums, however, is the buildup of plaque near your gum line, which leads to gum inflammation called gingivitis. Gaps develop between the teeth and gums, where bacteria get trapped and attack your gums and jawbone, causing infection. If this plaque isn’t removed, it hardens and becomes tartar, and causes the gums to separate from the teeth and recede. This can lead to the development of gum disease called periodontitis, or periodontal disease, which is painful and much more complex to treat. If you catch it in time, however, you can avoid this outcome.
The first step in taking action is to do some home self-care, to see if the cause is a simple one. Stop the bleeding right away by pressing a clean, damp piece of gauze against it until the blood stops flowing. If you have a weak immune system or a disease like diabetes you might take longer to stop bleeding than you expect.
Next, hold a small ice pack or an ice cube against the spot for 10 minutes at a time to reduce pain and inflammation. Wait 10 minutes between icing sessions so you don’t make your gums too cold. Rinse your mouth every few hours with warm saltwater, which helps to soothe, disinfect and heal it. You can make the solution yourself by dissolving one teaspoon of table salt in a quarter cup of warm water.
If these steps help to get rid of the problem, make sure you have a soft toothbrush and you’re flossing correctly to avoid it happening again. If they don’t make a difference, you’ll need to consult with a dentist to find out the cause.
Going to the Dentist
When you visit the dentist about your bleeding gums, be sure to take a list of all medications you’re using, including vitamins and over-the-counter medicines you use only occasionally. The dentist will ask about your diet, your oral hygiene regimen, the kind of toothbrush you use and your method of flossing. He or she will examine your mouth and determine what the cause is likely to be, so a treatment plan can be developed.
Treating the Problem
Treatment of bleeding gums depends on your dentist’s diagnosis. If you’ve started to develop a plaque buildup, the first phase of your care will involve a procedure called scaling and root planning, which means scraping the plaque off the teeth and root surface areas and smoothing them off so it can’t accumulate again. This should encourage the gums to reattach themselves to the teeth and become healthier. If this doesn’t work, there are various additional treatments your dentist can recommend to help restore the health of your mouth. Some of these are fairly complex, so the earlier you’re able to identify and resolve the cause of bleeding gums, the less pain and trauma you will have to go through.
help restore the health of your mouth. Some of these are fairly complex, so the earlier you’re able to identify and resolve the cause of bleeding gums, the less pain and trauma you will have to go through.
Ignoring bleeding anywhere is never a good idea, and especially when it comes to your dental health. Our bodies are inter-connected and many oral conditions can cause or affect other physical problems, so the sooner you get treatment the better.
For more information on bleeding gums or to book an appointment with the dentist in North Delta BC, please contact 604-593-7866 today.