It’s easy to think that your gums might be bleeding for no reason at all when you first notice they are bleeding. You see the blood after brushing, taste it after eating, or notice it on your pillowcase in the morning and think to yourself that you’ve done absolutely nothing to cause this to happen. So, your gums are bleeding for no reason at all.
But there is a reason why your gums are bleeding. Since you know you didn’t injure your mouth, let’s take a look at some of the other reasons for bleeding gums, and, more importantly, how to prevent bleeding gums moving forward.
How to Keep Gums Clean
The number one cause of bleeding gums is gingivitis—and the number one cause of gingivitis is a poor oral hygiene routine. In other words, when your gums just start bleeding and you know there’s no toothbrushing or sports injury behind it, you may very well have a gum infection. For most people, gum infections are caused by not getting the teeth and gums completely clean when brushing and flossing. Periodontitis is the name for more advanced gum disease. Gingivitis is the name for earlier gum disease. Both are capable of causing gums to bleed.
When food particles and plaque are not completely removed from your mouth with regular brushing, they cause gum irritation. Food particles can get behind gum tissue, causing pockets to form that trap still more food and allow bacteria to flourish. Plaque, a sticky film made of bacteria, hardens and turns into tartar. Brushing alone cannot get rid of tartar, so it will need to be removed at a dental cleaning. The bacteria also causes more inflammation, which can negatively impact your overall health.
So, what do you do? If you suspect you have gum disease, you can give your dentist a call and get an evaluation. Sometimes, antibiotic therapy, prescribed by your dentist, might be helpful to combat the infection. If you have an accumulation of tartar, your dentist will remove it to allow for gum healing. If you have advanced gum disease, your dentist may recommend you visit a periodontist—a specialist in gums—to help you get the infection under control.
If the infection is in its early stages and you caught it right away, stepping up your cleaning game can be a huge benefit. Using an antimicrobial rinse and a high pH tooth gel or paste can help you control the bacteria in your mouth and aid you in bringing the infection under control. Brushing every day, at least twice a day, and flossing or using a between tooth cleaning tool (like interdental brushes or a water flosser) will help you prevent gum infections from developing in the first place.
The Ins and Outs
Sometimes, even the most careful oral care routine can be derailed by problems with what you are taking in or not taking in. Your diet can have a huge impact on your oral health.
The Ins: A diet high in carbohydrates, especially simple sugars, can have a negative effect on your oral health. Feeding the bacteria in your oral environment a high dose of simple sugar helps them thrive and overgrow, endangering both tooth health and gum health. Moderating carbohydrate intake can help protect gum health in a vulnerable mouth.
The Outs: Conversely, if you are lacking in certain vitamins, you are likely to experience bleeding gums as well. Scurvy, a severe vitamin C deficiency, causes bleeding gums. Vitamin K deficiencies also have been shown to cause bleeding gums. If you have excellent oral hygiene but still experience painful, bleeding gums that are slow to heal, remember that your diet is responsible for the health of your whole body. Since your mouth is attached to the rest of you, a careful nutritional examination is worth your time if your bleeding gums don’t seem to have a bacterial, infectious cause. Correcting your diet can help your mouth heal (and will probably do your overall health a favor).
If Your Gums Are Bleeding, Seek Help
The bottom line is that gums don’t bleed for no reason, and bleeding gums always warrant further attention. If you notice bleeding gums and can’t account for any injury that would have caused the bleeding, consult your dentist or your doctor, evaluate your oral care routine, and consider your diet to get to the root of the problem. Treating the problem quickly can improve your oral health and your overall health.