What Causes Bleeding Gums?
Gum disease is a common problem that many experience at some point in their life. The most common symptom of gum disease is bleeding gum tissue though bleeding gums may also be an indicator of an underlying medical issue. Bleeding gums can be a result of:
- brushing too hard or with a toothbrush that does not have soft bristles
- gingivitis and periodontitis
- ill-fitting dentures or poor dental restorations
- vitamin deficiency
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue which is often caused by excessive plaque left on the teeth for too long. The damage resulting from gingivitis is usually reversible with improved oral hygiene. When we brush, the buildup of plaque and bacteria that accumulates during the day and while we sleep is removed, preventing it from hardening into tartar. Flossing helps clean the areas that your toothbrush cannot reach, including the spaces between teeth and below the gum line.
Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- puffy, tender gums
- soreness in the mouth and around the gums
- bleeding gums
What is periodontitis?
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis, which is an infection of the gums, jawbone, and supportive tissues that connect your teeth and gums. Periodontitis can cause more severe damage such as gum recession, loose teeth, bone loss and even tooth loss, which is not reversible without extensive restorative treatment.
What vitamin deficiencies can lead to bleeding gums?
A nutritious diet is an important part of not only overall health, but also oral health! Vitamin C and vitamin K deficiencies can cause gums to bleed easily. If your Dentist agrees that you have good oral hygiene, you may need to speak with your primary care physician if you are experiencing bleeding gums. You may be advised to consume more foods rich in vitamins C and K.
Foods rich in vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits and juices
- broccoli and bell peppers
- potatoes and tomatoes
Foods rich in vitamin K include:
- kale, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and lettuce
- canola oil and olive oil
What else causes bleeding gums?
Pregnancy can cause gestational gingivitis that usually resolves after giving birth. Menopause and other hormonal changes can also lead to bleeding gums. Additionally, patients with dentures that are too tight and those with bad dental restorations may experience bleeding gums. Your Dentist can replace poor dental work and adjust your denture to help get your mouth back to a healthy state.
Bleeding disorders like hemophilia and leukemia can also increase your risk of bleeding gums. Your gums might bleed more often if you take blood-thinning medications. Drugs in this class include warfarin, aspirin, and heparin.
While bleeding gums are the most common symptom of dental issues, other more severe medical issues might be the cause. Your Dentist should be your first point of contact to diagnose gingival or dental issues but if they determine that your mouth is otherwise healthy, they may advise you to see your doctor. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to rule out any underlying issue that may be causing your gums to bleed.