If you notice your gums bleeding after brushing or flossing, this can be a moment of panic for many. Understanding what causes bleeding gums is the first step in determining what is causing your gums to bleed, and if this could be a bigger issue than you might initially think.
Why are my gums bleeding?
There are a few different reasons why your gums could be bleeding after your oral care routine. While some of these are temporary, some could be a warning sign of a more serious issue and should be addressed with your dentist right away.
Gingivitis. The first stage of gum disease. When plaque on your teeth and gumline are not removed from brushing and flossing, that same plaque can begin attacking your gums and lead to an infection referred to as gingivitis. If your gums are swollen, tender and bleed during brushing or flossing, discussing an action plan with your dentist at your next checkup may reverse the damages if caught at the early stage of this disease.
Medications. The American Dental Association lists blood thinning medications as one of the possible causes of bleeding gums. These medications work in decreasing the body’s natural ability to clot, which can result in easier bleeding – one area specifically being the gums. Talk to your dentist about any medications you may be taking.
Toothbrush. If you recently changed to a new type of toothbrush, or switched to a more firm bristle, this could be the culprit for your bleeding gumline. A soft-bristled toothbrush is gentler on the gum tissue and may alleviate your issue. Your dentist can recommend which type of bristle you should be using.
Flossing. If you recently began a new flossing routine, this can cause your gums to bleed because you’re interacting with sensitive gum tissue. Your gums will adjust to your new routine within a week, so note if your problem is still present after that timeframe.
Pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause some women to experience swollen gums and bleeding while brushing their teeth. This is known as pregnancy gingivitis because of the way the hormones alter the body’s response to bacteria that causes gum disease. The American Pregnancy Association says symptoms should clear up after pregnancy and a dental checkup can help to prevent the gums from becoming worse.
Recognizing Symptoms of Gum Disease
Bleeding gums are most often related to gingivitis or periodontal disease, so it’s key that you know the other symptoms so that you can spot disease as early as possible. Gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease, can be pretty subtle. Watch out for gums that look:
- Receding or like they’re pulling away from the teeth
- Dusty red or purple in color
- Bloody after brushing or flossing
Persistent bad breath from bad bacteria can also be an indicator of gum disease.
Other Conditions that Can Cause Gums to Bleed
Your gums could also be bleeding because of something simple you are doing that can be easily rectified, as long as you’re aware of it. Other common conditions that can cause the gums to bleed are:
- Brushing your teeth too hard. This can be magnified if you’re also using a toothbrush that doesn’t have soft enough bristles.
- Starting a new flossing routine that your gums aren’t used to yet, or if you just began flossing again after a hiatus.
- Dentures that don’t fit well can cause sore spots to form in the gums and can cause bleeding. If you wear dentures, have your dentist check to see that they are fitting properly and not rubbing where they shouldn’t be.
How to Support Healthy Gums (And Teeth, Too)
Gym disease is the number one cause of tooth loss, and can have long-term effects on your oral health and your smile. Learning how to properly care for our gums and teeth at home can reverse the first stages of gum disease and improve your oral hygiene.
- Brush regularly and correctly
- Be consistent with a flossing routine and stick with it
- Use a mouthwash with fluoride to help prevent bacteria and plaque from building up
- Avoid sugary sweets and limit your starches that turn into sugar
Visiting your dentist every 6 months for a regular exam can assist in disease prevention. Let us help you determine what is causing your bleeding gums so we can create a solution for you.