Many individuals notice their gums bleed easily, especially when they floss or brush their teeth. There may also be increased mouth sensitivity around the gum line. Bleeding and inflamed gums are never a walk in the park to deal with, which is why understanding the causes and how to deal with them appropriately is so important. Several things can cause bleeding gums, some of which might be simple and easily rectified. Other underlying causes may be more serious diseases that require treatment by a doctor or dentist.
Brushing Or Flossing Too Hard
Brushing or flossing too hard is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. If an individual has just started flossing regularly, it's normal for their gums to bleed for the first few days as their mouth adjusts to the new routine. However, continual bleeding after they have been flossing for a while is a cause for concern. If individuals use too much pressure when brushing their teeth, they can damage their gums. Gum damage isn't reversible unless individuals have surgery. Other signs an individual is brushing too hard include receding gums, increased tooth sensitivity, and darker-looking teeth around the gums. Individuals can keep themselves from brushing too hard by getting an extra-soft toothbrush, as the softer bristles will cause less damage and abrasion. Experts also recommend holding the toothbrush in three fingers instead of a closed fist, which helps reduce pressure. Not a lot of pressure is necessary to clean the surface of teeth. It might also be time to switch to an electric toothbrush, since electric toothbrushes give a much deeper clean than manual ones.
Incorrect Fit In Dentures or Other Oral Appliances
An individual's gums may sometimes bleed due to an incorrect fit in dentures or other oral appliances. A pair of dentures that originally fit well may become loose over time. Aging causes shrinkage of the gum ridges, which in turn leads to loosening dentures. The bone might also shrink, which leads an individual's jaw to be aligned differently. Some dentures can be relined or adjusted without needing to be fully replaced. If an individual's dentures aren't fitting properly, they should talk to a dentist about their options. Badly-fitting dentures can cause mouth soreness, and affected individuals may also have stomach issues because their food isn't properly chewed. Dentures shouldn't be repaired at home and should always be taken to a dentist to be updated. The most common oral appliances besides dentures are ones for sleep apnea and snoring. These appliances should be custom-fit for an individual's mouth, since an improper fit can lead to the same issues that loose dentures cause. Oral appliances for snoring are only worn when an individual is sleeping.
Gingivitis, the most common type of gum disease, causes gum inflammation and often bleeding gums. Though it's a mild condition, it can be uncomfortable and irritating. Most cases of gingivitis are caused by plaque building up at the gumline. In addition to bleeding gums, gingivitis may cause swelling, redness, and irritation in the gums. The bleeding usually occurs when an individual is brushing their teeth. Gingivitis can typically be cured without needing to see a dentist. Patients just need to be proactive about their dental hygiene. They should brush their teeth in the morning and evening, floss at least once each day, undergo a daily rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash, and have regular appointments with their dentist for preventative care. If gingivitis doesn't go away despite doing all of this, affected individuals may be using an improper brushing technique. It's also possible the condition is caused by something else, and it's time for the individual to see a dentist for a checkup. Unchecked gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease.
Periodontitis is a more serious type of gum disease that can cause bleeding gums. Ongoing gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, otherwise known as periodontal disease. This is a long-lasting gum condition that causes damage to the bone and tissue responsible for supporting the teeth. In addition to gum inflammation, an individual's gums might also become infected and pull away entirely from the roots of their teeth. Easily-bleeding gums are sometimes a sign of periodontal disease. An affected individual's gums might bleed when they brush their teeth or randomly bleed throughout the day. If individuals think they might have periodontitis, they should see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent it from causing further damage. This condition can make their teeth loose and cause them to separate. A patient's teeth may not fit together when they bite, and they might experience a bad taste in their mouth or bad breath. Failing to treat periodontal disease can lead individuals to lose teeth as well.
In addition to underlying diseases and improper brushing habits, bleeding gums can also be caused by certain vitamin deficiencies, which are typically treated using vitamin supplements or diet adjustments. Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins in the body. It helps boost the immune system, heal wounds, strengthen bones, strengthen teeth, and help with overall tissue growth and repair. A vitamin C deficiency can cause an individual's body to feel weak. Affected individuals might experience unusual irritability and fatigue. If the deficiency persists over time, it can lead to bleeding and swollen gums. In rare cases, severe vitamin C shortages can cause scurvy, which causes weakness, anemia, and bleeding beneath the skin. One of the hallmark signs of scurvy is bleeding in the gums. A lack of vitamin K, the vitamin necessary for clotting, can also contribute to bleeding gums. It also helps strengthen bones. Individuals who don't have enough vitamin K in their diet or who struggle to absorb vitamin K may experience bleeding problems because they can't clot as well.
Leukemia occurs when the tissues in the body that form blood become cancerous. This kind of cancer can be found in the bone marrow and lymphatic system. Some leukemia types are very common in children, while others are more likely to occur in adults. The white blood cells are most noticeably affected by leukemia. Bone marrow is responsible for creating white blood cells, which fight infection and strengthen the immune system. But infected bone marrow produces nonfunctional white blood cells that multiply cancerously. Leukemia can cause the gums to bleed due to issues with clotting. When this is the case, individuals will also tend to find themselves bleeding abnormally from minor abrasions and bruising more easily. Bruises form when small blood vessels become damaged, causing blood to leak underneath the skin. Strange bleeding is a reason to see a doctor to rule out serious issues.
Thrombocytopenia occurs when an individual's blood has a low overall platelet (thrombocyte) count. Platelets are the part of the blood that's necessary to help with clotting. When the body recognizes there's a tear or other injury causing bleeding, the platelets go to patch up the hole by creating a blood clot. If there's an injury to a blood vessel, like a small rip in the wall, platelets will clump together until they've created a plug big enough to block the hole. When platelets aren't working properly, the result is a lot of bruising due to leaky blood vessels. Both children and adults are vulnerable to thrombocytopenia, but it's most commonly caused by another underlying medical condition or medication. Some cases are mild. With this condition, a patient's gums might bleed when they brush their teeth because their platelets aren't clotting the abrasions as quickly. There have been rare and serious circumstances in which the platelets were so low in number that it led to internal bleeding into the organs.
Hemophilia is a rarely-occurring bleeding disorder in which the blood doesn't produce enough blood-clotting proteins, otherwise called clotting factors. Patients with hemophilia tend to bleed for longer periods after being injured than others would. Small abrasions don't tend to pose a huge issue, as long as individuals keep them clean and put pressure on them until they do clot. For individuals with a severe presentation of the condition, though, there is a concern about bleeding deep inside the body. Some hemophilia patients find they bleed into their elbows, ankles, and knees. Bleeding into the internal organs can cause serious, potentially life-threatening damage. Even when the blood isn't damaging vital organs, the condition can cause damage to the connective tissues and joints in the body. Affected individuals might bleed from the gums after brushing their teeth or eating acidic food. One thing to note is mild bumps on the head can be enough to cause bleeding inside the brain. If individuals have any neurological symptoms following a minor head wound, they should seek emergency treatment immediately.
Von Willebrand Disease
Von Willebrand disease is a genetic bleeding disorder that occurs when the body's von Willebrand clotting protein factor is either defective or missing. The purpose of this factor is to bind one of the most important clotting proteins, VIII, to the platelets in the blood vessel walls. This process creates a plug or clot that can stopper injuries like a plug in a dam. Von Willebrand disease affects up to one percent of the entire population in the United States, and is the most common bleeding disorder to occur there. Genetic researchers have found the gene responsible is on an individual's twelfth chromosome, and the condition is equally likely to affect individuals of all genders. One of the common symptoms is experiencing frequent nosebleeds. Patients might also find their gums bleed easily if they don't use a very soft toothbrush. Von Willebrand disease patients may also have excessive bleeding following surgeries, and struggle with heavy and prolonged menstrual periods.
Smoking can be a contributing factor to bleeding gums, but it's not often the cause alone. When individuals smoke, they have a higher chance of developing gum disease, oral cancer, and infections after oral surgeries. Smokers must be vigilant about their oral health to prevent gum disease. If individuals have developed gum disease, they might notice their gums bleed more easily or feel swollen and tender when they brush their teeth. They might also recede, causing the teeth to have an elongated appearance. Oral cancer might also increase the chances of bleeding in the gums and mouth. Healing after oral surgery tends to take longer than for a non-smoker, which can lead to excess bleeding.