It’s a common scenario, but one that can cause alarm nonetheless: you’ve just finished brushing your teeth, and as you spit into the sink, you notice a tinge of pink. Bleeding gums – although common – should never be dismissed as trivial, so if you’ve found yourself pondering, “why are my gums bleeding?”, you’re not alone in your concern.

While this symptom shouldn’t be ignored, it’s important to note that various factors can lead to bleeding gums, from simple causes like brushing too vigorously to more severe issues like gum disease. In this guide, we’re going to take a look at the symptoms, causes, and preventative measures associated with bleeding gums, while also letting you know when you need to see a dental professional. Let’s get started!

Identifying Gum Bleeding Symptoms

Before we get into the root causes, it’s important to first identify the symptoms associated with bleeding gums. Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Pink or Red Tinge in Saliva: One of the most noticeable indicators is the presence of blood when you spit after brushing or flossing.
  • Tender or Swollen Gums: While bleeding might be the most alarming symptom, it’s essential to also note any swelling or tenderness in the gums. These could be indicators of underlying issues with your gums themselves.
  • Persistent Bad Breath: Chronic bad breath, despite maintaining good oral hygiene, can be a sign of gum problems.
  • Receding Gums: This is where the gums pull away from the teeth, making the teeth appear longer than usual.

Common Causes of Gum Bleeding

So, what causes bleeding gums? Here are some of the most common causes:

Poor oral hygiene practices

The foundation of oral health revolves around regular and effective hygiene practices: if these are compromised, various dental issues can arise, including bleeding gums. Here are the key factors related to hygiene:

  • Ineffective Brushing: If you’re not brushing your teeth thoroughly or frequently enough, plaque can accumulate along the gum line, leading to irritation and bleeding. Conversely, brushing too hard can also cause trauma to the gums, making them bleed.
  • Inconsistent Flossing: Flossing is crucial to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth and along the gum line. Neglecting this step allows bacteria to thrive, causing inflammation and potential bleeding.
  • Not Using Mouthwash: Incorporating an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash into your routine can help kill bacteria and strengthen enamel, reducing the chances of gum issues.

Gingivitis and periodontitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is characterised by inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gums, especially when brushing. It’s primarily caused by the buildup of plaque. If gingivitis is not addressed promptly, it can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. Periodontitis can lead to gum recession, loss of the bone that supports the teeth, and eventually, tooth loss.

The critical difference between these two stages is that the damage from gingivitis is reversible with prompt and proper care, whereas the effects of periodontitis are often permanent. Recognising the symptoms early on and seeking treatment is essential to preventing the progression of the disease.

Read Next: Can Receding Gums be a Sign of Underlying Health Issues?

Vitamin deficiencies

The health of our gums, like the rest of our body, is significantly influenced by the nutrients we consume. A deficiency in certain vitamins can directly impact gum health:

  • Vitamin C: Essential for collagen synthesis, Vitamin C plays a pivotal role in maintaining the health and integrity of your gums, and studies show that a Vitaminc C deficiency can cause gums to become tender and more prone to bleeding. In fact, historically, scurvy was caused by a lack of Vitamin C, and gum bleeding was a primary symptom.
  • Vitamin K: Known as the clotting vitamin, Vitamin K deficiency can lead to prolonged bleeding. This includes bleeding of the gums, even with mild trauma like brushing.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids in calcium absorption, and is essential for tooth and bone health. A deficiency might weaken the teeth, making the gums more susceptible to disease and bleeding.

Ultimately, incorporating a balanced diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals or considering supplementation can often help address any ongoing Vitamin deficiencies, and reduce instances of bleeding gums. However, we’d always advise you to speak with a doctor before taking any new supplements, especially if you have any underlying conditions. Additionally, if you continue to experience bleeding gums after regulating any Vitamin deficiencies, it might be a good idea to look at other causes.

Hormonal changes

Throughout life, especially in women, there are several periods where hormonal fluctuations occur, such as during menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, or even while on birth control pills. These hormonal changes can affect the blood flow to the gums and the body’s response to the toxins produced by bacteria in plaque, leading to increased gum sensitivity and bleeding. For example:

  • Pregnancy Gingivitis: Many pregnant women experience swollen, tender gums that may bleed during brushing or flossing. This condition is due to hormonal changes that increase the blood flow to the gum tissue, making them more sensitive, irritable, and swollen.
  • Menopause: Hormonal imbalances during menopause can cause gums to become drier and more sensitive, leading to inflammation, discomfort, and bleeding.

Medications and medical conditions

Certain medications, particularly anticoagulants or blood thinners, can also increase the likelihood of gum bleeding. These medications reduce the blood’s ability to clot, which can make even minor gum injuries bleed more than usual. Other medications, including certain antihypertensives, anticonvulsants, and immunosuppressants, can cause gum enlargement, increasing the potential for gum disease and bleeding.

Furthermore, certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can make individuals more susceptible to gum disease. Poorly controlled diabetes impairs the body’s ability to combat bacterial infections, including those in the mouth.

When to Consult a Dentist

Bleeding gums, especially when persistent, should never be ignored. While home remedies and preventive measures can be effective, there are scenarios when professional dental intervention becomes necessary:

Persistent Symptoms

If bleeding continues despite employing proper oral hygiene practices and home remedies, it could indicate a more serious underlying issue.

Accompanying Symptoms

The presence of other symptoms like persistent bad breath, loose teeth, or drastic changes in the way your teeth fit when you bite should prompt immediate consultation.

Medical History

Those on certain medications or with specific medical conditions that are known to affect gum health should have regular check-ups to ensure optimal dental wellbeing.

Pregnancy

If you are pregnant and notice changes in your gum health, it is advisable to consult your dentist as pregnancy can affect oral health.

Your dentist will usually conduct a comprehensive examination, which may include a professional cleaning, measurement of pockets around the teeth, dental X-rays, and a review of your overall health and medications. This will help in diagnosing the exact cause of the bleeding and determining the appropriate course of treatment.

Also Read: How to Treat Swollen Gums