Bleeding gums when you floss or brush your teeth can be a sign of poor dental hygiene. You may think that it is normal or look over the issue, but it is usually a sign of an underlying problem that needs to be fixed.
Bleeding gums can be caused by a number of different factors including: brushing too hard, trauma to the mouth, gingivitis and periodontitis. Usually bleeding gums will go away with improvements in oral hygiene, without the need to visit a dentist. However, if problems persist a visit to the dentist will be able to give a professional diagnosis and opinion.
What Causes Your Gums To Bleed?
Bleeding gums can be caused by few different reasons, through a process of elimination this can be narrowed down and then treated until the problem is cured.
The main causes of bleeding gums include:
- Trauma to the mouth – A traumatic event to the mouth can result in gums bleeding. This should be an isolated event and not something that occurs regularly.
- Brushing too hard – If you brush your teeth too hard, you may be causing damage to the gums and causing them to bleed. When brushing your teeth the recommended amount of pressure to apply is 150 grams (about the weight of an orange). The firmness of your bristle/brush head can also be contributing to bleeding gums if it is too hard.
- Gingivitis (gum disease) – “Gingivitis” is the medical term for the early stages of gum disease. Gum disease is a common condition where the gums become sore, swollen or infected. Gingivitis can cause your gums to bleed when you brush your teeth. According to the British Society of Periodontology, gum disease affects over 45% of the UK adult population. The root cause of this is ultimately improper plaque removal, which causes the inflammation of gums.
- Periodontitis (gum disease) – “Periodontitis” is the medical term for the late stage of gum disease, this develops when gingivitis is left untreated. Periodontitis is more serious, effecting the tissues that support the teeth. It can damage the bone in your jaw and cause small spaces to open up between the teeth and gum. Along with the more serious symptoms, periodontitis also causes the inflammation of gums like gingivitis.
Other causes of bleeding gums include (and causes that lead to gum disease):
- Improperly fitted dental appliances (e.g. braces).
- A bleeding disorder.
- Medications, such as blood thinners.
- Hormonal changes, in particular those that occur during pregnancy.
- Infections, of gums or teeth.
- A deficiency in vitamin C or K.
- Stopping smoking – Smokers typically have poor blood supply to the gums so can have gum disease without noticing bleeding gums. Gums may bleed as blood circulation improves after quitting smoking.