My gums are bleeding, how worried should I be?
This question is asked more frequently than you might think.
It is unsettling to see blood on your gums while you are brushing. Depending on the situation, it can be an indication of a bigger, more serious problem. But how can you know?
We turned to our general dentist, Dr. Sylvain Mosca for answers:
Why do my gums bleed?
The most common reason behind bleeding gums is gingivitis.
If you don’t floss or brush regularly, bacteria (also called plaque) builds up around your teeth. Sometimes you can even see the plaque as white or yellowish marks on your gums. The plaque is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that then easily move under your gum and creates inflammation. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and its most common symptom is bleeding gums. Besides bleeding gums, you could also have gingivitis symptoms like red gums, sensitive gums, and bad breath.
The most important thing to remember is that this stage of gum disease is reversible. Your dentist can help scrape away plaque and bacteria. Brushing and flossing keep the bacteria away for good, so you can enjoy healthy gums.
In some cases, bleeding gums can be caused by other reasons such as severe vitamin deficiency, hormonal changes like pregnancy or menstruation, chemotherapy, some diseases like diabetes, certain medication like blood thinners. Smoking also damages your gums and makes the gum disease progress faster.
My gums bleed while I brush my teeth, should I stop brushing?
If you see that your gums are bleeding, instinctively you would like to stop brushing to stop the bleeding. However, the best thing to do is to continue brushing, even more, add the flossing as well.
By doing so, you will remove all the plaque from your teeth that most likely caused the bleeding in the first place.
My gums are bleeding, should I visit the dentist?
Sometimes, if you practice good oral hygiene habits, your gums will get better without a visit to the dentist.
If your gums bleed regularly, such as every time you brush your teeth for a few weeks, I encourage you to make an appointment to see your dentist soon. You should also call your dentist if your gums bleed for a long time after you have stopped brushing or flossing.
I also recommend that you see your dentist if you experience other symptoms of gum disease, such as:
- Red or swollen gums
- Sensitive gums – especially to hot or cold temperatures
- Gums that seem to be separating from teeth, leaving a gap between the gum and the tooth
- Frequent bad breath or taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth as an adult
- Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align