Bleeding gums are the first sign that gum disease — including more severe gingivitis and periodontitis — is on the way. Although three-quarters of the population will experience gum disease in their lifetime, it can usually be cured if you clean your teeth and mouth properly. Read Step 1 onwards for ways you can start today to treat bleeding gums and fight gum disease.
Understanding the Problem
Find out the cause of bleeding gums. Bleeding gums are not always a symptom of gum disease, although it is the most common cause. Bleeding gums can be a symptom of other diseases that are completely unrelated to dental and oral hygiene. If you suspect that your bleeding gums are related to something other than not brushing your teeth and flossing properly, check with your doctor to discuss ways to treat the problem. Bleeding gums can be associated with the following conditions:
Blood clotting disorders
Know why the development of gum disease is important to stop. Gum disease, which is caused by the build-up of plaque on the gums and teeth, is very common in adults 35 years of age and older. Gum disease starts with gingivitis, which is inflammation and swelling of the gums that causes bleeding and pain. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe periodontitis, which causes the gums and jawbone to weaken, and can lead to tooth loss.
Gum disease is also associated with other severe medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
Visit the dentist. The best way to fight gum disease is to visit the dentist as early as possible for a thorough cleaning of your teeth and mouth. The dentist will help find the cause of bleeding gums. The dentist can demonstrate how to brush and floss properly, remove plaque build-up, and assess whether periodontitis treatment is necessary or not.
Regular visits to the dentist–at least every six months–is an important way to fight gum disease. Brushing your teeth and flossing can’t completely remove plaque before it turns into hard tartar on your teeth, unless the toothbrush you use follows small up/down movements accurately. If the plaque has hardened, you can’t clean it yourself. Dentists have the right tools to remove tartar that causes bleeding gums.
Seek medical help as soon as possible if the following symptoms occur along with bleeding gums:
Pockets form between the teeth and gums
Changes in gear position
Swollen, red, and painful gums
Gums bleed a lot when brushing teeth
Stopping Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease with Dentist-Recommended Methods
Change the way you brush your teeth. If you think that the harder you brush your teeth, the cleaner your teeth will be, then this habit may be the cause of gum problems. Gums are made up of soft, fragile tissue, which doesn’t need to be rubbed vigorously to clean. Choose a toothbrush with soft, dull bristles–don’t buy one labeled ” medium ” or ” hard “. Brush your teeth twice a day with the right technique–gentle circular motions on all sides of the teeth and gums.
Consider using an electric toothbrush. The electric toothbrush is gentle on the teeth and very effective at reaching all the way back to remove tartar. Choose a brush that is approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
If any part of your mouth feels sensitive, or seems to bleed more frequently, spend more time gently scrubbing that area. Gently massage the area with a toothbrush for 3 minutes. That will help remove any plaque that irritates the area.
Use dental floss without injuring the gums. Using dental floss once a day is very important to stop bleeding gums. There is no other way to remove food debris and tartar that has accumulated between the teeth. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to floss, and flossing properly can make a big difference when it comes to stopping bleeding gums.
Do not pull the dental floss firmly between the teeth. It won’t make teeth and gums any cleaner; it will only injure fragile gums.
Gently pull the floss between your teeth, and rub it over your gums. Clean the front of your teeth by holding the dental floss in a U shape over your teeth and gently brushing it down.
Try gum irrigation. Many people find that using a gum irrigator, called a water pick , can help relieve bleeding gums by cleaning the gums more thoroughly. The gum irrigator is connected to the sink pipe and should be used after brushing your teeth, to thoroughly clean the gums.
Use a non-alcoholic mouthwash. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can dry out your gums and make irritation and bleeding worse. It is better to use a non-alcoholic peroxide-based mouthwash. You can also make your own mouthwash by simply gargling with a saline solution.
Consider professional medical care. If the bleeding gums don’t stop, and cleaning your teeth and mouth doesn’t seem to improve the condition either, your dentist will likely recommend a treatment designed to remove plaque and allow the gums to heal. Here are the available options:
Scaling and root planing . The dentist administers a local anesthetic, then scrapes the plaque and smoothes the rough areas. This procedure is usually done when there is a buildup of plaque below the gum line.
Gum surgery ( flap surgery ) and pocket reduction . If you have severe gum disease, your dentist will likely decide on surgery as the best solution. Gum surgery reduces the space between the gums and the teeth, so plaque can no longer easily accumulate under the gums.
Tissue or bone graft . If periodontitis has caused gum recession and bone destruction, tissue and bone can be grafted from other parts of the mouth to the damaged area.
Eat healthy. Gums, like other body tissues, are affected by the vitamins and nutrients you consume. If you eat a lot of sugar and flour based foods, and only a few fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-rich foods, your gums will be damaged. To improve oral health, try the following:
Reduce sugar intake. Eating a lot of sugar causes tartar to build up quickly–faster than brushing your teeth or flossing. Reducing sugar intake should help speed gum healing.
Eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C, such as kale , mangoes, broccoli, and grapefruit.
Eat foods rich in calcium, such as spinach and dairy products.
Quit smoking. Smoking is very detrimental to oral health. Toxins in cigarettes and other tobacco products can cause inflammation and gum disease. In fact, people who smoke are six times more likely to develop serious gum disease than people who don’t smoke.
Smoking inhibits blood circulation in the gums, making them much more susceptible to disease.
Smoking actually lowers the chances of successful gum disease treatment.
Drink lots of water. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day can help keep your gums and mouth healthy. Drinking water removes bacteria from teeth and helps prevent plaque buildup. As often as possible, replace sugary drinks, coffee, and tea with water.