Bleeding Gums: The Root of the Problem

Have you ever experienced a little “pink in the sink?” Many of us thoroughly brush and floss (sometimes for the first time in awhile) just before a trip to the dentist. It’s during this rigorous (last-minute) deep clean that bleeding gums occurs for a lot of people.  And while this isn’t a rare phenomenon, it’s important to acknowledge that bleeding from the gums is never normal. According to a recent Fox News article, it’s actually a red flag for gingivitis, or gum disease. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums and is often caused by the buildup of bacteria and plaque on the teeth. When left untreated, gum disease can cause serious oral health issues, eventually leading to tooth loss. And it’s also been linked to a number of other chronic health concerns, like heart disease, dementia and diabetes. Basically, it’s bad news.

Aside from aggressive brushing, there are several other factors that can trigger bleeding gums. Here are five examples that may have you seeing red:

  1. You Missed a Spot: It only takes a day for bacteria to make inflammation in your gums, which can cause bleeding. That means that if you don’t do a good job of brushing or flossing just the day before, you could see a little blood. Take the time to do a good job, and the bleeding should stop. But if you brush up on your skills and still see blood (for a week or two), make an appointment with your dentist to get it checked out.
  2. Hormonal Issues: When hormones fluctuate (i.e., during puberty, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause), people are more sensitive to plaque. Using a mouth rinse, or adding an extra floss to your routine could help. Basically, a little TLC for your mouth should do the trick.
  3. You Get What You Give: When you aren’t treating your body well, your body will likely show it. Bleeding gums in college kids aren’t abnormal, mainly due to stress, sleep deprivation and a crummy diet. All of those factors make it more difficult for the body to fight inflammation. A sensible diet, rich in protein, veggies and vitamins C and D will help, and adding a daily multivitamin is recommended.
  4. Blame Your Meds: Some prescription drugs may cause dry mouth, and the lack of saliva allows bacteria to multiple. If you’re experiencing red, swollen, and sometimes bloody gums, check with your dentist or doctor if you’re concerned your medication is the cause.
  5. Something More Serious is Going On: Illnesses like diabetes, leukemia and HIV can affect the immune system, leading to swollen and bloody gums. If bleeding gums has become a regular occurrence (lasting more than a couple of weeks), it’s time to visit your dentist. If a bigger issue is the cause, early detection is crucial.

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