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9 Important Bleeding Gums Causes You Should Know

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Dr Teresa Li
April 23, 2024

Do you notice your gums bleed when you floss or brush? If so, this should concern you.  Poor oral hygiene and lack of dental care lead to an array of health issues, including bleeding gums.  

Here are nine important bleeding gum causes you should know.

1. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the most common cause of bleeding gums. It is the first stage of gum disease. Bacteria in plaque build-up causes your gums to become inflamed. 

You’ll notice that your gums become swollen, tender, and bleed during brushing. At this stage, you may not feel any pain but that doesn't mean you should ignore it.

Gingivitis is reversible with professional scale and cleans and proper oral hygiene at-home routine. Untreated gingivitis, on the other hand, leads to a more serious advanced condition periodontitis.

2. Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a more advanced form of gingivitis.  When the plaque is left too long on teeth it hardens and harbours more and more bacteria. Eventually, the bacterial infection damages the gums and bone supporting your teeth.

Treating periodontitis is a more involved and lengthier process than treating gingivitis. 

Some of the methods include:

  • Following a personally prescribed at-home oral hygiene routine.
  • Special cleanings by a dentist in 2-3 month intervals to reduce plaque and bacteria.
  • Medications and/or mouthwash.
  • In severe cases, you might need one or more surgical procedures.

If periodontitis goes untreated, the alveolar bone around your teeth recedes over time. If you get too much bone loss, you can eventually lose some or all of your teeth.

3. Medications

Certain medications can increase your risk of suffering from bleeding gums.

Blood-thinning medications are the main culprit. The medications work by decreasing your blood's ability to clot. This means your body will bleed easier. 

Blood-thinning can be the medications main purpose or a side-effect.

Some of the more commonly prescribed blood-thinners include:

  • Rivaroxaban also called Xarelto.
  • Dabigatran also called Pradaxa.
  • Apixaban also called Eliquis.
  • Heparin also called various.
  • Warfarin also called Coumadin.

Click here to find out more information about your medications and possible side-effects. Also, let your dentist know which medications you take, they’ll be able to help you know if bleeding gums is a possible side-effect.

4. Oral Hygiene Routine

If you don't have a good oral hygiene routine, this can lead to bleeding gums. 

Gingivitis and periodontitis are a result of a build-up of bacteria. Your best bet to avoid bleeding gums is to brush twice daily and floss before going to bed. 

You'll also want to visit your dentist for professional plaque removal every 6 months. This helps remove the tougher plaque build-up that a toothbrush won’t budge.

Ask your dentist which type of toothpaste and mouthwash is best for you.

Children aren't immune to gum disease. Make sure that young children in your family also practice good oral hygiene. Teach children good habits early by making oral care a habit. Oral care should start as soon as children get their first tooth.

5. Using the Wrong Toothbrush

Most people don't think twice about the toothbrush they buy. The wrong toothbrush can lead to irritated gums and improper oral hygiene.

A hard brush can irritate the gums and cause bleeding. Always choose a soft or medium-bristled toothbrush.

Use your soft-bristled brush in gentle circular motions and hold it at a 45-degree angle. Don’t forget to not only brush the tooth surfaces but also gently massage your gums and tongue too to remove bacteria and food debris.

6. Diabetes

Bleeding gums and diabetes tend to go hand in hand. Diabetes reduces your mouth's ability to fight off germs and bacteria. This leaves you more likely to suffer from gum disease.

Diabetes can also cause high blood sugar levels. This makes it harder for your body to heal. So instead of getting better, your infection and gum disease get worse.

The Australian Diabetes Association says having diabetes increases your odds of gum disease.

If you have diabetes don’t skip your regular dental check-ups.  That way if you start to develop signs of gum disease you can take swift action and prevent it deteriorating and undergoing more complex treatment later on.

7. Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency causes your gums to weaken and become inflamed. This leads to bleeding gums.

Your body can't make its own Vitamin C. Since the vitamin is water-soluble, it doesn't last long in your body. To ensure healthy gums make sure to eat a good amount of the following foods:

  • Carrots
  • Oranges
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Red peppers
  • Broccoli

In severe Vitamin C deficiency, your gums appear purple. Severe cases can also lead to tooth loss.

8. Pregnancy Gingivitis

Don't become alarmed if your gums begin to bleed while you are pregnant. Pregnancy gingivitis occurs in around half of all pregnant women.

Your hormone changes lead to increased blood flow in your gums. The hormones also make your gums more sensitive, which causes bleeding. This condition starts can start as early as the first trimester.

Pregnancy gingivitis does not pose a risk to your baby's health. You control this type of with proper oral hygiene and help from your dentist. 

Risks do exist if the issue progresses to periodontitis. Learn more about pregnancy gingivitis in our ‘Bleeding Gums in Pregnancy: is it Normal?’ article.

9. Smoking and Other Habits

Smoking and other bad habits can harm your gums like they harm other aspects of your health.

Using tobacco weakens your body's immune system. With a weakened immune system, your gums can't fight off bacteria and plaque as easily. And when you suffer from gum disease, smoking makes it harder for your gums to heal.

Other habits also affect your risk of gum disease. Try to avoid unhealthy eating, drinking too much alcohol, and a stressful lifestyle. Both of these habits leave your body less equipped to resist harmful bacteria.

Beyond the Bleeding Gum Causes

Now that you know the main causes of bleeding gum causes, it's time to treat them.

First, let your dentist know that your gums have been bleeding. They will try and find the likely cause and help you put in place a prevention plan.

Chances are you may have gingivitis. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible with a professional scale and clean followed up by at home care.  

Gingivitis is curable when caught early, so don't delay. If gingivitis leads to periodontitis, it damages your gums and leads to tooth loss. It's the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.

Stop worrying about bleeding gums and book your check-up today. Call us on (02) 6583 4055 or book an appointment online now.

At TL Dental Port Macquarie dentist, we are preferred providers of HCF, Medibank, and NIB, among others. With this in mind, there's a good chance that your private health insurance will cover most, if not all of your treatment. 

You may also be interested in reading:

What are the stages of gum disease

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