bleeding gumsAlmost all of us have experienced that disconcerting moment during tooth brushing when you take your toothbrush out of your mouth and it’s red with blood. You spit out your toothpaste, and that’s pink too. Bleeding is scary. It can be very anxiety provoking to see your gums red and bloody. How much should you worry if you have bleeding gums? What can you do to stop them from bleeding?

Why Do Gums Bleed?

Gingivitis, or the inflammation of the gums, is the primary reason gums bleed. Gums that are healthy are pale pink and firm and do not bleed from routine brushing or flossing. When people do not have good oral health habits, plaque and tartar build up along or underneath the gum line, causing inflammation. That inflamed tissue bleeds easily when it’s irritated. 

Fortunately, gingivitis, while very common, is easy to resolve with the right habits. Bleeding gums, as long as they are not bleeding excessively or all the time, are not a serious medical concern. 

Other causes of bleeding gums are:

  • Failure to brush your teeth regularly at least twice a day
  • Using a toothbrush that has bristles that are too stiff
  • Flossing too roughly or carelessly
  • Brushing with a old or damaged toothbrush
  • Taking blood thinning medications, including aspirin or ibuprofen

Patients with certain medical conditions, weakened immune systems, or medication regimens may experience more serious bleeding, however. If you notice big changes to the condition of your gums, if bleeding persists even after you improve your oral hygiene, or if you see signs of infection like fever or swelling, talk to your dentist. 

How to Prevent and Care for Bleeding Gums

If you do notice your gums bleeding, there are some measures you can take to stop it. The first, of course, is to brush and floss your teeth every day correctly, using the right toothbrush. This will directly address the gingivitis, the root cause of most bleeding. 

Another good action to take is to stop smoking or chewing tobacco if you have either of these habits. Smoking causes gum disease and impairs the body’s immune system, making it much more susceptible to bacteria, including the bacteria in the mouth that causes gingivitis.

If you need to stop the bleeding temporarily, you can apply gauze or ice, or rinse your mouth with salt water. You can also use mouthwash. Regular mouthwash use also will treat or prevent gingivitis from occurring.

 Finally, don’t neglect to visit your dentist for regular checkups. During your dental cleaning, the hygienist will remove tartar, evaluate your oral health, and give you ideas about what you should be doing to keep your teeth and gums in excellent shape. If you have any worries about your oral health, it’s a good time to share them so you don’t let them sit on your mind and bother you. 

Bleeding gums are not a large cause for concern, but they are a sign that your oral health is not what it could be. If you follow the above advice, though, you should see improvement in your gum health and the bleeding should discontinue in a short period of time.