The number one cause of bleeding gums is insufficient plaque removal, but there are many reasons you may be seeing a little pink in the sink while brushing. Although we may know the number one culprit, improper oral care, medications and even hormones may be to blame. It is important for you to treat the problem before it leads to issues that require more extensive treatment from a periodontist, but finding the root of the problem is the first line of defense.
Plaque is a thin layer of bacteria that naturally grows on teeth. If it is not removed, the build-up can cause germs to attack the healthy tissue around the teeth. This is what is known as gingivitis and is commonly, but not always, accompanied by inflammation and irritation of gum tissue. If left untreated, it will harden into tartar and can lead to more severe infection called periodontitis. Soft tissue will start to recede from the teeth allowing the bacteria to reach and destroy the supporting bone, and can eventually lead to tooth loss or the need for a tooth extraction. Gingivitis can be treated and completely reversed. Make sure you don’t ignore the early signs.
Brushing & Flossing:
Many people notice a little bleeding when brushing and flossing. They also may experience some irritation and discomfort while preforming their daily oral care. While you should always be on the lookout for the early stages of gingivitis or periodontitis, many patients are just too rough when taking care of such sensitive tissue. Using a hard bristle toothbrush, brushing too vigorously and “forcing” the floss between teeth may very well be the cause of the irritation. A hard bristle toothbrush may be too abrasive. Opt for a soft bristle brush and remember to brush in a circular motion as opposed to back and forth. Don’t force floss between teeth. Make sure that the floss slides between your teeth with minimal pressure. For teeth that seem too close together to fit the floss between, try an alternative such as pre-cut floss that has a reinforced tip to allow you to thread the floss between teeth beneath the obstruction.
Chemotherapy & Other Treatments:
If you are undergoing chemotherapy, you may notice a persistent dry mouth, bleeding and frequent mouth sores. A general term for this condition is stomatitis, and it is an unwelcome but common side effect of chemotherapy. Some prescription medications can also cause these adverse effects. Research has found a direct link to certain anti-depressants, blood thinners and oral contraceptives. In many cases, the problem ceases when the prescription regimen is completed. Speak to your dental professional about the prescription medications you are taking and if they may be attributing to your oral health issues.
Hormone fluctuation can be an attributing factor for bleeding gums. During puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy, the rise in hormones can lead to sensitivity and bleeding. At puberty, blood flow is heightened, and can cause tissue to become inflamed and sensitive. Some women experience what is called menstrual gingivitis. This is when the gums become red, inflamed and more likely to bleed before each period and subside after onset. Pregnancy gingivitis causes similar symptoms and often lasts throughout the duration of the term. Be sure to check with your dental professional to accurately diagnose the issue at hand and to make sure that you address any problems before it becomes necessary to have to undergo more serious treatments by a periondontist.
Ill-Fitting Dental Prosthetics:
Besides the discomfort associated with ill-fitting dentures and dental bridges, a poor fit can also lead to bleeding gums and even mouth infections. If the apparatus doesn’t fit properly, it can rub in an abrasive manner, causing swelling from the constant irritation. Also, if your dental appliance doesn’t fit well, an overgrowth of yeast can accumulate and cause stomatitis, leading to inflammation and soreness. Many dental prosthetic wearers find it difficult to eat properly while experiencing discomfort from a loose fit. This prevents them from eating a well-balanced diet, which can also contribute to dental and gum ailments.
If you experience regular bleeding of the gums, speak to your dental professional about the potential cause(s) and treatment. Many of the sources can be addressed by your dentist, leading to a healthier mouth and a happier you. Even if minor changes to your habits or routine dental care don’t help, good periodontal care can help thwart any major problems.
For more information about periodontal care, contact Gentle Dental in Queens at 718-461-0100.