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Bleeding Gums are NOT Normal

Even if you think you do a great job taking care of your teeth, chances are you've seen an occasional drop or two of blood on your gums after flossing, or in the sink. Not problem - right? Not so fast!

Bleeding gums are not NEVER normal and the cause needs to be determined. To put it another way - imagine if your scalp started bleeding after you brushed your hair - would you be concerned?  If your gums are bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth, you may have a problem and need to schedule a dental appointment to find out.

Here are some of the reasons that gums may start to bleed:  

Gum Disease

Chances are, your bleeding gums are caused by gum or periodontal disease. Gum disease is common. Really common. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, up to 80% of the adult population has some level of periodontal disease, while only about 10% are aware of it. Half of Americans aged 30 or older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. This equals approximately 64.7 million Americans!

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque on your teeth and at the gumline that is not removed by brushing and flossing can infect the gums and lead to the gingivitis. When gingivitis occurs, your gums may become swollen, tender and bleed during brushing. This early stage of gum disease responds well to good brushing and flossing habits and regular dental care. If not treated, gingivitis may progress to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. The infection & inflammation associated with moderate and severe gum disease can result in tooth loss, and is also linked with other serious health issues and concerns such as stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.

Medications

Medications may also cause your gums to bleed.  The

American Dental Association

lists blood thinning medications, such as 

warfarin, aspirin, and heparin

 as one of the possible causes of bleeding gums. These medications decrease the blood's ability to clot, which can lead to easier bleeding.

Changes in Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Changing your flossing routine can also lead to bleeding gums. For example, if you haven't remembered to floss for a few days, or if you have begun to floss more frequently, then you may notice some temporary bleeding. Or, you've switched from a soft-bristled toothbrush to a firm brush may also result in gums that bleed. Again, this should be temporary.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Some pregnant women experience swollen gums and bleeding during brushing. This is known as

pregnancy gingivitis

. Hormonal changes during pregnancy alter the body's response to the bacteria that causes gum disease. According to the

American Pregnancy Association

, symptoms should clear up after pregnancy. A dental checkup and regular brushing and flossing can help to prevent gum problems from becoming worse.

Poorly Fitting Dentures or Oral Appliances

People who wear dentures may also may experience bleeding of the gums from time to time. This is more likely when the dentures are too small or fit too tightly. People who wear retainers or other oral appliances may also experience bleeding from improper fit. Consult your dentist or orthodontist if dentures or other oral appliances are uncomfortable.  You may need to take new impressions to create a better-fitting mouthpiece. 

Medical Conditions

Frequent episodes of gum bleeding, however, can indicate more serious conditions, such as: leukemia (cancer of the blood) or hemophilia (lack of clotting cells).   

Deficiencies of vitamins C and K can also cause gums to bleed easily. However, vitamin deficiencies aren’t often seen in people who live in developed countries, according to the

Linus Pauling Institute

. This is because healthy children and adults living in developed areas of the world have access to vitamins C and K through food and supplements.

Your best bet? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Morrison at

Jeff M. Morrison & Associates, DDS

to discuss your concerns and determine why you are seeing red when you brush and floss.  We can be reached at 919.755.3450 or you can schedule

online