WHAT CAUSES BLEEDING GUMS?
Here are 8 of the most common causes of bleeding gums…
1. You may not be brushing and flossing enough or correctly.
Brush and floss twice daily, use anti-bacterial toothpaste and rinse with anti-bacterial mouthwash. An electric toothbrush is beneficial and helps massage the gums to stimulate blood flow. Consider a WaterPik for flossing! If you don’t brush or floss for a few days or don’t brush correctly, it hardens on your gums and becomes tartar causing them to bleed. After a while, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Click here to watch our informative video on proper flossing techniques to avoid bleeding gums.
2. Is your diet is unhealthy?
Processed food with lots of sugar is not only bad for your teeth (and waistline) but your gums too. It causes tooth decay which can lead to gum disease. Also, eating sharp or hard foods can irritate your gum tissue causing your gums to bleed. Make sure you chew your food carefully and thoroughly to avoid bruising or irritating your gums.
3. Are you still smoking?
Prolonged smoking leads to gums that are fibrous and enlarged and aren’t getting the nourishment they need. Bleeding gums allow the dangerous bacteria between the tooth and gum line to move through the infected gums and into your bloodstream.
When that happens it’s risky for the entire body and most especially to your heart and blood vessels causing disease in other parts of your body. Plus, when your gums bleed, they allow parasites to travel through your body and can cause many systemic diseases, including diabetes, pancreatic and colon cancer and new studies even show possible links to Alzheimer’s disease. It is also common belief that people with periodontal disease are more likely to get Rheumatoid Arthritis. Yikes.
4. Stress and anxiety can affect the immune system’s capacity to fight gum disease.
Stress also causes inflammation in your blood vessels which then can break down soft tissue. This can hinder the gum’s ability to heal. Research shows that high levels of stress can impair the bodies ability to fight infection leading to periodontal disease and bleeding gums as well as hypertension/high blood pressure. Utilizing relaxation and stress relief techniques like meditation, yoga and talk therapy can improve your oral and mental health, which in turn improves your overall body health! Can you say Namaste?
5. Do you have the genetic marker for periodontal disease?
Family history is another risk for bleeding gums. Thirty-five percent of the population is born with a higher tendency to get periodontal disease. If you have this genetic marker it doesn’t mean you will get gum disease, so being proactive and keeping up with your professional cleanings and maintenance will go a long way to avoiding it. However, there are some people who do have this genetic marker will eventually get periodontal disease despite taking great care of their teeth and gums. Your best bet is to play it safe and take the best care possible of your oral health. After all, you may be at risk and not even know it.
6. Medications can also promote bleeding gums and gum disease.
They can dry the mouth out and a lack of saliva can cause a swelling of the gums which makes them react more to plaque, and increasing the risk of periodontal disease. Anti-depressants, cardiac medications and other orally ingested medications can increase your risk of gum disease and bleeding gums. It’s always a good idea to talk with your dentist or periodontist about the medications you take regularly.
7. Pregnancy can also make you susceptible to gum disease!
There are lots of hormonal changes during pregnancy. About half of all pregnant women will have pregnancy gingivitis by their second trimester. There tends to be more bleeding, more inflammation and the gum tissue tends to be more swollen. This is mainly due to the release of the hormone progesterone and the hormone-like chemical prostaglandin. Prostaglandin levels increase dramatically when one has periodontal disease and increases the likelihood of pre-term birth. Practicing good oral hygiene can help you avoid it. If you do have gum disease, be sure to schedule regular visits to your dentist. Keeping it in check can reduce your risk of complications like preeclampsia and preterm birth. Really? Yep.
8. Certain Cancers can Cause Your Gums to Bleed
Leukemia and other cancers have been known to increase the likelihood of bleeding gums. One of the first symptoms of leukemia can be gingivitis and bleeding or swelling gums. Some cancers linked to periodontal disease are lung, colon, pancreatic and kidney cancer. Keep in mid that the number 1 cause of bleeding gums is bacteria and inflammation that is related to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
CAN I TREAT BLEEDING GUMS AT HOME?
Your best option is to see a dentist for regular cleanings to avoid serious problems. However, you should still be brushing, flossing and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day. Rinsing with saltwater daily may help and adding hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is also helpful. Saltwater helps to soothe gums but if you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor first. Also, note that water that’s too salty can irritate your gums so start with a smaller amount and slowly add a bit more each day. Here are step-by-step instructions on and proper ingredients to make the mixtures:
Make a mixture of Sea Salt and Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
- 1 Tablespoon of Baking Soda
- Wet a Soft Bristle Toothbrush
- Use the toothbrush to stir the mixture
- Brush your teeth for about 3 minutes
Create a mouth rinse from Hydrogen peroxide and water
- 1/4 cup of Hydrogen Peroxide (1% – 3%)
- 1/4 cup of water Swish for 3 minutes
- DO NOT SWALLOW. Spit out.
For more detailed instructions, check out Dr. Nemeth’s video on how to treat bleeding gums at home.
Oil pulling is said to have some benefits in calming tender, bleeding gums. While there isn’t a lot of information linking oil pulling as an effective treatment for gum disease, some studies show it may help. Rinse with an edible oil like coconut, olive or sesame (most people prefer coconut) for anywhere from 1-20 minutes. We recommend talking with your dentist before trying this. Oil pulling has been said to help whiten teeth too…a win-win! Also, be sure not to inhale the oil so you don’t aspirate and get it into your lungs. For more great info on oil pulling, click here.
Incorporate more dairy in your diet. It’s a fact that milk/dairy products have calcium which helps strengthen your teeth. Studies have shown that people whose regular diet contains milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products have less gum disease and are less likely to have bleeding gums.
Crunchy foods can also help remove plaque off teeth, most likely it’s from the crunchiness that scrapes the teeth and not necessarily their nutritional value. Plus, when you chew, your mouth makes more saliva and that helps wash away food and acid in your mouth.
Other more unconventional options involve using herbs and oils can help with bacteria and inflammation.
Calendula, also known as marigold has been said to help with bleeding gums, plaque and gingivitis. Arnica is said to help with tenderness and an over-the-counter product that has peppermint, red thyme, cinnamon bark, Eucalyptus globulus, and lavender oils, as well as extracts from herbs like Echinacea may help with plaque and inflammation. If you’re using oils, be sure to dilute them as they can damage mouth tissue at full strength.
While there are some things you can do yourself to help bleeding gums, you can only reach so far with your home treatment. Your best bet to stop bleeding gums is to schedule an appointment with a dentist or periodontist for a good cleaning. This way you can be assured you’re getting the right treatment for your bleeding gums or gum disease and avoid more serious, long term issues.
Your health matters to us.
If you have any questions concerning this post, give us a call. We’re always happy to hear from our awesome patients!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions or bleeding gums.