Does biting into an apple draw spots of red from your gums? Does brushing or flossing in the morning make them bleed? If you have had any of these experiences, you may be going through a dental condition known as bleeding gums.
Inept practices like aggressive brushing may lead you to experience spontaneous and slight bleeding from gums while doing your oral hygiene routine. It is also entirely normal for gums to bleed slightly during professional teeth cleaning appointments. But if these experiences are pretty repetitive, or if you have bleeding from gums frequently for a long time without any apparent cause like trauma or injury, it could mean that there might be a more complex disease.
For a long time, it has been established that certain gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis are among the most common causes of bleeding gums. Yet, it has also been observed that sometimes bleeding gums may also be a symptom of complex medical conditions. Read ahead as we shed light on everything you need to know about bleeding gums.
What Can Cause Bleeding Gums?
We have already stated that bleeding gums might be a symptom of gum disease. This section will break down different dental and medical conditions that can lead to bleeding gums because sometimes bleeding gums may arise from something more alarming.
Dental Conditions Which Can Lead to Bleeding Gums
Incorrect or faulty brushing techniques, not flossing, low-quality toothpaste, using an old and frayed toothbrush are not appropriate to clean your teeth properly. Thus, a poor and uncaring attitude towards oral hygiene makes you susceptible to various complications. These poor oral hygiene practices will lead to the accumulation of plaque in the mouth. Plaque is found at and near the gum line; it is seen as a yellowish sticky film that adheres to the teeth’ surfaces. Various microbes and oral debris reside in this dental plaque. Although most of the bacteria in our mouth are, in reality, non-threatening and normal commensals of the mouth, some can be disease-causing under appropriate conditions. Whenever the balance between good and harmful bacteria is disturbed, these bacteria, which are usually harmless and keep the mouth healthy, rapidly proliferate and may cause disease.
Over time, if proper oral hygiene is not maintained, the dental plaque will accumulate, eventually, calcify and harden to form calculus. These disease-causing harmful bacteria are dependent on sugar for energy and release acidic and toxic substances as byproducts. It is these byproducts that are responsible for causing inflammation of the gums, and this is what eventually leads to gingivitis.
Gingivitis often presents itself as swollen, red and tender gums, and it is the initial, non-destructive and mild form of gum disease. Along with these, bleeding gums are also one of the most common and definitive symptoms of gingivitis.
When these bacteria are given the time to proliferate, and if gingivitis remains untreated, it may progress to a more severe and destructive form of the disease called periodontitis. If oral hygiene is not maintained, periodontitis might set in, and eventually, the bacteria start destroying the gums, oral soft tissues and even the underlying jawbone. Even the smallest amount of force or disturbance will lead to profuse bleeding, or it may even be unprovoked. Sometimes with bleeding gums, you may also see pus discharge if the case progresses severely. This disease ultimately leads to loose and mobile teeth, and if periodontitis is not treated as soon as possible, it will keep moving and eventually lead to loss of teeth.
According to several studies, periodontitis tends to be more severe in diabetic patients. Thus if you have any symptoms such as loose teeth, swollen, reddish, and bleeding gums, you may be suffering from periodontitis. We recommend scheduling an appointment with us at our dental clinic today and get your journey to better oral health started.
Systemic Diseases and Conditions Associated With Bleeding Gums
Some people have the misconception that bleeding gums is probably nothing serious or just a minor dental condition. Yet surprisingly, many clinical studies have been conducted that link multiple systemic diseases and conditions with bleeding gums. Therefore, you should get bleeding gums checked out at the earliest by a board-certified dentist as they may signal a more complex systemic disease. Read ahead for more elaboration on various medical conditions which can be an underlying cause of bleeding gums.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C plays a significant role in the proper functioning of our body; hence it is an essential substance. For a long time, its deficiency has been linked to bleeding gums. Vitamin C also plays a significant role in proper wound healing and strengthens our bones and teeth. In case of injury or wear and tear, the growth and repair of tissues are also aided by it.
A classic sign of vitamin C deficiency is the presence of swollen, friable and bleeding gums. A severe lack of Vitamin C causes scurvy, and this disease also has dental manifestations. It has been observed that vitamin C deficiency can also trigger chronic fatigue and make you feel easily irritable.
Lack of Vitamin K
An inadequate amount of vitamin K levels leads to several bleeding problems, and one of them is bleeding gums. This is because vitamin K is integral to the blood clotting mechanism of our body.
A significant number of hormonal changes go through the female body during pregnancy, which puts them at a greater risk of suffering from gingivitis. Several clinical studies have proved a strong association between pregnancy and gum diseases. Almost 50% of pregnant females go through a prevalent condition called pregnancy gingivitis, and one of its presenting symptoms is bleeding gums.
Expectant mothers must maintain pristine oral hygiene and schedule regular dental appointments because gingivitis-causing bacteria can also reach the bloodstream and wreak havoc on the health of the mother and the child. Weighing the risks has shown that untreated cases of pregnancy gingivitis may be linked to higher chances of miscarriages.
Hormonal Changes During Puberty
During puberty, teenagers experience hormonal changes and may have a carefree attitude towards oral hygiene, making them susceptible to gingivitis which leads to bleeding gums. Maintaining a good oral health care routine and regular dental visits are vital in preventing gum diseases in teenagers.
Various researches and studies show that diabetes and periodontitis are strongly associated, and patients are 2 to 3 times more susceptible to periodontitis if they have diabetes. This destructive gum disease has many symptoms, such as swollen and bleeding gums, and sometimes there can be an underlying condition such as Type 1 or type 2 diabetes. As uncontrolled sugar levels disturb the body’s ability to heal and compromise immunity, it makes a diabetic patient more susceptible to severe gum diseases. In support of this, it has been seen that people with good sugar control tend to have less severe gum disease and do not suffer from bleeding gums. To maintain optimal oral and overall, a dental consult combined with a complete check-up for diabetes is advisable if you notice bleeding gums or loose teeth.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) and atherosclerosis are certain cardiovascular conditions directly associated with gum diseases like periodontitis. This is supported by the fact that the composition of dental plaque and plaque accumulation in the arteries are found to be similar. Heart conditions like these tend to reflect as bleeding gums and need immediate dental and medical attention.
Leukemia, a type of blood cancer, shows an abnormal increase in white blood cells in the body. A low platelet level in the body is also evidence of this disease. Such a disturbance in the blood cells leads to poor healing capability of the body. Hence, the body finds it harder to stop bleeding in different parts of the body, including the gums. Swollen, puffy, and bleeding gums can signify blood cancer like leukemia, requiring further analysis and tests.
If brushing, flossing, or eating makes your gums bleed easily and it refuses to stop easily, you may be suffering from a blood condition known as thrombocytopenia. It is a condition that affects the blood platelets. Thrombocytopenia causes low platelet count and reduces the body’s ability to form clots, leading to bruising, making you bleed easily. Long-term and profusely bleeding gums can be a sign of thrombocytopenia.
Hemophilia and Von Willebrand’s Disease
Unprovoked bleeding gums are often reported by patients with a blood disorder known as hemophilia, an inherited blood disorder. The blood of hemophilic patients does not clot easily, which can lead to spontaneous and often unstoppable bleeding, even from minor cuts and bruises.
A similar disease called Von Willebrand’s disease is also a blood clotting disorder that can lead to bleeding gums. These bleeding disorders make the gums bleed more profusely and easily once gum diseases set in.
A well-known medical condition, anemia, is seen when the red blood cell count reduces. It has various types, a common one being Pernicious anemia which is caused by a deficiency or malabsorption of Vitamin B12. Bleeding gums happens to be one of the most common oral symptoms of anemia.
HIV Induced Bleeding Gums
HIV is a condition that makes even the slightest and mildest form of infection dangerously severe. Patients who have HIV-AIDS tend to suffer from a plethora of dental ailments, including bleeding gums. This is because HIV attacks the immune system and systematically destroys it.
People who are on medications like blood thinners, antidepressants, etc., are more prone to gum diseases. Certain medications have bleeding gums as a common side effect.
Faulty Dental Restorations
Faulty dental restorations can lead to trauma to gums, causing bleeding gums. Also, defective dental fillings, loose and faulty dentures are favourable to plaque accumulation, leading to gum diseases.
How Are Bleeding Gums Treated?
The extent of the disease and the underlying cause decide the treatment of bleeding gums.
Scaling and Deep Cleaning
As previously discussed, gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by bacteria that reside in the plaque and calculus. They are the leading cause of bleeding gums. Therefore, such offending substances must be removed. Removing the plaque and calculus from teeth’ surfaces and gum margins involves a dental procedure called scaling and deep cleaning. This procedure lowers the bacterial load in the mouth as the substances housing them are removed. Hence, the diseased and infected gums have a fighting chance.
The removal of bacterial accumulation helps the gums begin the healing process. Previously mobile teeth slowly started to become a little firm. As the healing completes, rolled and receded gums come back to their intended place. But it should be noted that in cases of massive destruction, periodontal surgeries may have to be carried out to help the gums regenerate and reach their proper levels.
In cases where the calculus deposition has occurred below the gum line, the gums are incised and reflected to remove this bacterial accumulation.
Scaling and deep cleaning procedures help the gums heal by treating the underlying disease, thus curing bleeding gums.
When the gum infection is severe and widespread, scaling and deep cleaning procedures may not suffice on their own. In these cases, antibiotics are given to clear out residual bacteria, thus aiding the healing process. Post dental procedures, our dentist may also prescribe you some antibiotic mouthwash to help you maintain good oral hygiene.
Gum diseases are often seen in diabetic patients, and what further complicates it is the presence of deranged and uncontrolled sugar levels. In such cases, your dentist will first perform complete oral prophylaxis and then ask you to consult a specialist for optimum sugar level control.
Treatment of Underlying Cause
Sometimes, the cause of bleeding gums is found to be an underlying medical condition. In such cases, a proper evaluation and treatment for the underlying disease become very important. A dental professional will advise you to treat the underlying condition combined with oral prophylaxis, as this will eventually help treat bleeding gums.
Regularly bleeding gums should never be ignored. Untreated bleeding gums can lead to eventual tooth loss, compromising the quality of life. This ignorance can turn life-threatening if any underlying disease is the cause of bleeding gums. Consult our board-certified dentist today to get your bleeding gums checked and treated.
Can I Prevent Bleeding Gums?
We have good news for you. Bleeding gums can be prevented by following our top tips and keeping your precious whites shining bright.
- To keep dental diseases and bleeding gums at bay, ensure that you have an excellent oral health care routine. Preventing the accumulation of dental plaque eliminates the chances of developing any gum disease or bleeding gums.
- Brush with a soft-bristled nylon toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day, once you wake up and before bed. Make sure you cover all your teeth and each of their surfaces. It is crucial to pay extra attention to the back teeth, as they generally tend to get missed during regular oral hygiene procedures.
- If you don’t already, this is your sign to start flossing. A string of floss should be used to clean the area between your teeth at least once a day. It is an essential part of a good oral health care regime because a toothbrush cannot reach between the gaps of your teeth.
- Mouthwashes are an excellent supplement to your regular oral hygiene. They help you eliminate any remaining offending agents and food debris from your teeth, gums and tongue. The antibacterial properties of mouthwashes can minimize microbial growth. Mouthwash removes and kills bad breath-causing bacteria, giving you a fresh breath and glowing smile.
- After every meal, make it a habit to rinse your mouth.
- If diabetic, you should make sure you are taking all your prescribed medications correctly. Moreover, following a balanced diet to keep your sugar levels under control will help you prevent bleeding gums and help you prevent other complications of uncontrolled diabetes.
- If your gums have already started showing signs and symptoms of gum disease, immediately schedule an appointment at our dental clinic and get it checked before it progresses to its severe forms.
- An active lifestyle and keeping some time to work out a little, especially if you have a sedentary job, will also be helpful.
- Most importantly, eat right and consume reasonable amounts of fruits and vegetables that will replenish your body. Taking supplements advised by your doctors for nutritional deficiencies will also help keep medical diseases and bleeding gums away.
We all have heard that prevention is indeed better than cure. Only a few simple tips are required to maintain good oral hygiene, plus scheduling regular dental visits will help you live a disease-free and healthy life. And even if the disease has already set in, it’s not too late to get it treated. An appointment with us will keep you at the top of your oral health. For more details or queries regarding our offered services, kindly contact us, and our team of excellent dental professionals will happily assist you.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is in no way offering a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice provided is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.