Bleeding or sore gums?
Gums play an important role in maintaining your dental health. They protect the roots of your teeth from bacteria, preventing damage. Gums should be a healthy shade of pink. Not every case of bleeding, sensitive or sore gums requires dental treatment. However, if you have ongoing symptoms, there may be a more serious cause that your dentist can help treat.
What causes bleeding or sore gums?
Noticing blood or pain when you brush or floss can be alarming. There may be different reasons why your gums are irritated:
- Gum disease (also called gingivitis): This can occur if plaque builds up on your teeth. Bacteria in the mouth can form plaque when people don’t floss or brush regularly or properly, and this can cause your gums to become inflamed. This results in bleeding, swollen, or painful gums. If gingivitis gets worse, gums may start to pull away from your teeth, giving the bacteria more space to get to the root and tissues below. This can eventually lead to periodontitis (inflammation that can damage soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth).
- Pregnancy gingivitis: Some women get gingivitis during pregnancy, due to hormonal changes. These changes in hormones change the way the body responds to the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- Medication: Some medicines like blood thinners and aspirin make it easier for your gums to bleed, because they stop your blood from clotting. Other drugs like some chemotherapies can also cause painful, swollen or bleeding gums.
- Changes in brushing: When you change your toothbrush to a firmer one it may cause bleeding. Bleeding can also occur if you just started brushing or flossing more often, until your mouth gets used to the routine.
Can you prevent bleeding or sore gums?
These are some tips to prevent bleeding and sore gums:
- Brush your teeth twice a day (using an electric toothbrush).
- Rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash. This kills bacteria that cause gum disease.
- See your dentist regularly.
- Have a well-balanced diet which includes vitamin C and calcium.
- Floss daily.
- Drink water. Drinking water after eating can get rid of some food stuck in between your teeth, making it less likely for bacteria to settle.
- Don’t smoke tobacco.
What should I do when I have bleeding or sore gums?
Sometimes your gums can get better with a good oral health routine, without seeing a dentist (see: “Can you prevent bleeding or sore gums?”). If your gums bleed regularly for a few weeks, you should make an appointment with your dentist. You should also see your dentist if other signs of gum disease appear, such as when your gum starts to separate from your teeth, bad breath, changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align, and when your gums are swollen or become sensitive (especially to low or high temperatures).
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