Bleeding after brushing or flossing, or simply at random times, could be a sign of unhealthy oral tissues. Many people think bleeding gums is normal, particularly after flossing their teeth, but bleeding is usually a warning sign to change your oral hygiene routine and visit the dentist.
What Causes Bleeding Gums?
One of the most common causes of bleeding gums is gum disease, also called gingivitis or periodontitis (periodontal disease). Gum disease can cause the gums to bleed while eating, randomly during the day, or after brushing or flossing the teeth. Other causes are more related to lifestyle choices, such as an unhealthy diet that does not provide nutrition to maintain oral health. Smoking cigarettes is another cause of bleeding gums, as it can impact the body’s immune system and increase the risk of gum disease and inflammation in the gums.
Bleeding Gums from Gum Disease
According to the California Dental Association, bleeding gums is an early warning sign of gum disease. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and without proper care can lead to periodontal disease, a more serious form of gum disease.
Symptoms of gum disease:
- Bleeding gums
- Tender or inflamed gums
- Bad breath
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Receding gums
- Sensitivity to cold and hot foods/beverages
- Changes in how teeth fit together while biting
Oral Hygiene Myths
There are some common myths about bleeding gums, according to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). The academy advises patients to ignore these myths:
Myth #1 - Cleaning between teeth every day, is not necessary.
Cleaning the surfaces between your teeth is just as important as cleaning any other surface of the tooth. Flossing removes particles and bacteria that a toothbrush doesn’t reach. People who don’t floss often end up with gum disease.
Myth #2 - It is normal for gums to bleed.
Many people believe that bleeding gums are normal and not serious. But gums should not bleed. Period. Bleeding gums is a sign of gum disease and needs to be addressed right away.
How to Prevent Bleeding Gums
The best way to prevent bleeding gums is to clean all surfaces of the teeth and to clean them consistently. To clean all surfaces of the teeth you should:
- Brush the teeth twice a day to clean the areas you see and feel.
- Floss at least once a day to clean the areas you can't reach with a toothbrush.
- Use an irrigator, like the Hydro Floss, to clean the areas below the gum that can't be reached with floss.
- Visit the dentist at least every six months.
It is important to use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid damaging the tooth surface or irritating the gums. Brushing the teeth after every meal may be necessary for people with gum disease, in order to keep the gums as clean as possible and prevent bleeding gums. Hydro Floss helps keep gum tissue clean and aids in healing by promoting blood flow in damaged tissue. Eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding sugary foods and beverages also contribute to good oral health.
For more information about gingivitis please read, Gum Disease - Progression, Cause and Treatment.