Are Bleeding Gums Serious?
At one point or another, almost everyone experiences bleeding gums. One minute you’re brushing your teeth like every other day, and the next thing you know there is blood in the sink. Cause for concern or just a fluke? While it can be hard to know from one single instance, time will usually tell, so if you’ve noticed that your gums bleed during or after brushing or flossing, keep track of the number of days you experience symptoms. If your bleeding gums last longer than three days, it’s probably time to see your dentist.
Causes of Bleeding Gums
The causes of bleeding gums are multiple and varied. Surprisingly to some, gums can become irritated and bleed simply from brushing or flossing too vigorously, or even using a toothbrush whose bristles are stiffer than they should be. While a whole range of toothbrushes are available in the store, from soft to extra firm, dentists recommend soft bristled toothbrushes because they are easier on the delicate tissues of the gums.
Furthermore, you should take care not to brush too hard; gentle circular motions for about two minutes is all that is needed to effectively clean your teeth if you are doing it twice a day. Likewise, daily flossing should also be done gently, sliding the floss up and down the side of each tooth rather than pulling the floss straight up to the gumline.
If you feel confident that you are using the proper tools and techniques while brushing and flossing and you haven’t sustained any injuries to your mouth or gums, bleeding gums could be a sign of the early stage of gum disease known as gingivitis. Gum disease takes hold when built up plaque and tartar on the teeth begin to seep into the surrounding tissues of the gums, which then become infected. Once in the gums, the bacteria can multiply and continue to affect neighboring tissues, which is how gum disease progresses. Eventually, it can work its way into the jawbone where it can then cause tooth and bone loss.
Luckily, gum disease at the gingivitis stage can still be reversed quite easily. If you have had bleeding gums for longer than a few days, it’s best to be seen by your dentist to ensure that you are not beginning to develop gum disease.
Treating Bleeding Gums
Even in the case of gingivitis, treating bleeding gums is typically quite simple. If it is caused by built up plaque and tartar on your teeth, a simple deep cleaning by your dental hygienist is usually enough to reverse the beginnings of gum disease and get you back on track to good oral health. If you’re brushing too hard to with the wrong brush, that’s an even simpler fix – just pick up a soft bristled brush at your local drugstore and remember that a little pressure is quite enough.
As your irritated gums begin to heal, you might try some warm saltwater rinses a couple times a day, or even a cold compress if they’re overly sore. In a few days’ time, your bleeding gums should be a thing of the past. If they persist, be sure to contact your dentist’s office for a visit.