Many of us have been there – maybe you notice a spot of pink when you spit out your toothpaste, or maybe you’ve seen a dab of blood when you’ve flossed.
Although a small amount of blood on a rare occasion isn’t always something to be concerned about, if you’re noticing that your gums bleed on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to get checked by your dentist.
There’s a long list of reasons as to why you might experience bleeding when brushing, some more serious than others. Here are a few of the most common culprits, and how to help stop bleeding gums or poor oral health in the future:
- Brushing too hard or over brushing – it’s a common misconception that brushing your teeth with pressure helps to clean away dirt, plaque and staining. Unfortunately, brushing in this way can actually damage your teeth, especially the sensitive gum line. When brushing, it’s important to reach all surfaces, brushing in a circular motion, without excessive force. Ideally, you should brush twice a day for 2 – 3 minutes each time. This has been proven to keep your teeth in good shape, without irritating your mouth and gums.
- Plaque build-up – Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that naturally collects on and around your teeth. With effective brushing and regular dental visits, plaque can be kept under control and you can avoid a buildup. However, plaque loves to collect on the gum line, which can cause redness, swelling and eventually, gum disease. In these cases, it’s best to visit a dental hygienist, who can help to remove the plaque build-up and continue to brush your teeth to avoid a repeat in the future.
- Incorrect tools – The ideal toothbrush has a small head and soft bristles. Toothbrushes with large heads tend to bump into your teeth and gums, which of course, causes quite a bit of irritation, and firm bristles can prove too rough for most mouths. Whether you opt for a manual or electric toothbrush, choosing the correct head and bristle strength will make a big difference to your everyday brushing experience. Use floss or interdental brushes daily, to help remove any bacteria on the gum line in those hard-to-reach areas – in between your teeth!
- Stress – Did you know that stress can affect your oral health? High levels of stress can cause inflammation in the body, making your gums more likely to bleed. It can also negatively affect your immune system, which can lead to a higher chance of infection in the gums if they become damaged or irritated.
- Poor diet – We all know that sugar is your teeths biggest enemy – but it’s also likely that it contributes to your bleeding gums too! Sugary foods and drinks increase plaque build-up, which as we know, can be a common reason for your gums to bleed whilst brushing. Try to stick to a diet of whole foods with minimal sugar. Sugary treats should be consumed in moderation – and don’t forget to brush afterwards!
- Smoking – Smoking plays a huge role in the development of gum disease, as well as many other health problems, such as heart disease and cancers. The toxic ingredients in tobacco can stop your mouth from getting the usual nutrients it requires to keep healthy and functioning as it should. This can result in gum infections, increased plaque, gum disease and the inability to heal if your gums become impaired. Although quitting can be tough, the health benefits alone will make cutting tobacco from your life worthwhile.
- Medications – You may want to consider any medications you take as certain medications, over-the-counter and prescription, can cause bleeding of the gums. This is mainly due to causing thinning of the blood, however, some medications can cause gum bleeding as a side effect. In these cases, you should always consult your doctor – they may be able to recommend an alternative medication or dosage.
- Gum disease – Gum disease (known in the dental world as Periodontal Disease), whether in the early stages (Gingivitis) or the later (Periodontitis), is not something to be ignored. Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue and is usually caused by plaque build-up.
Gum bleeding, bad breath, red or swollen gums are just a few of the symptoms you might experience with this ailment. In later stages, it can even stop your gums from being able to support your teeth – which leads to tooth loss and even damage to the jaw bone in some cases.
Gum disease is treatable during the early stages, so it’s important you see your dentist regularly so that they can spot the signs. If you think you may have gum disease, see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to diagnose, treat and potentially cure your gum disease, so those bleeding gums and that bad breath will be a thing of the past!
In many cases, you don’t need to panic about spotting blood when you brush, but it’s always worth being on the safe side and visiting your dentist. Any potential problems can be identified quickly and treatment can be started as soon as possible, to get your smile back in top condition.