It is a question we hear almost on a daily basis working in dental. “Why are my gums bleeding?” There can be a number of different reasons as to why your gums are bleeding. Bleeding gums can be one of the early signs of gum disease, so let’s dive in and find out the top five reasons your gums might be bleeding and what you can do to fix it.
- Poor oral hygiene: I know, this one sounds pretty straightforward. I said above that we hear, “why are my gum’s bleeding?” this sentence is almost always followed by “I brush daily, but I don’t floss. Every time I do, my gums bleed more” This is because your gums are inflamed and/or irritated. If it has been some time since you last had your teeth professionally cleaned, you might have plaque or tartar buildup. The best way to get your gum health back on track is by visiting your usual Dentist/Oral Health Therapist/Hygienist for a clean. They are able to get under your gums and remove anything that may have hardened on your teeth that your own toothbrush is unable to remove. From there, daily brushing and flossing will ensure your gum health. And while you may have some bleeding for the first couple of days, keep at it because it will settle over the next few days.
- Incorrect brushing and/or flossing technique: Have you ever actually been shown how to brush and floss correctly? Sounds a bit silly, but there is a correct way of doing things. We often see people using the floss like a saw into their gums (OUCH!) Did you know that when you purchase yourself an electric toothbrush, your brushing technique has to change, otherwise, you could be applying too much pressure, not enough pressure, or even missing parts of your mouth. Do you have braces? Are you using super-floss and/or interdental brushes? Normal floss, unfortunately, won’t do the job while you are wearing braces. These are all things we will show you when you come in for a visit.
- Pregnancy: There is an old wives tale which states a woman will lose a tooth for each baby she has - ”Lose a tooth, gain a baby” While there is a correlation between pregnancy and dental problems, it doesn’t have to be that way. We love hearing that our patients are expecting and that our dental family will grow. But we’ve also found over the years that while people tell you to take these vitamins, avoid eating those foods, but no one ever seems to say, “make sure you continue your regular dental checkups”. Our front office staff often have phone calls from expecting mothers saying they need to cancel due to pregnancy, not because they aren’t up to coming in but because someone has told them to avoid dental treatment during pregnancy. When in reality, the opposite is true. Pregnancy hormones can increase gum sensitivity, so if you have a little bit of plaque buildup, your sensitive gums will know about it. Not to mention the acidity levels in your mouth rising due to morning sickness. Good oral health habits during your pregnancy will make for a much more comfortable mouth.
- Stress: Sounds crazy, right? We all know long-term stress will lead to a decrease in our immune systems ability to fight off infections. As a result, we are more at risk of dental problems, including gum inflammation and bleeding. We see this more often around the exam periods for high school and uni students, but it is not just limited to students. Anyone experiencing a prolonged period of stress is at risk. Some ways to help reduce stress include exercising, reducing how much caffeine and/or alcohol you consume, eating healthy and practising meditation. Chatting to your GP might also be worthwhile for you.
- Smoking and/or vaping: I’m sure this one comes as no surprise. Although some people have switched to vaping in an effort to quit smoking, it does still have ill effects on your oral health. People who smoke heavily are five to six times more likely to have gum disease than those who don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, we may recommend having more frequent visits with our Oral Health Therapist to try and keep your gums healthy but also to make sure you are having regular oral cancer screenings. If you would like assistance in quitting, have a chat with your GP, Dentist or call Quitline. The great news is that you are not alone in quitting; over the past 20 years, the number of smokers in Queensland has halved, with more and more quitting every year. Remember: it is never too late to quit.
There will always be other reasons why your gums might be bleeding. Please don’t Dr Google this one. Always have any gum bleeding checked out and keep on top of your regular checkups and cleans.
Our wonderful front office staff will be happy to help you book your next appointment. Please phone us on 07 5572 6522. Alternatively, you can book your next appointment online using the “book now” function at the top of the page.
We look forward to seeing you again soon.