Bleeding gums are a reality that many of us experience. Close to 90% of people report occasional bleeding gums, especially when brushing. In some cases, minor blood flow from the gums indicates overzealous tooth brushing; in other cases, bleeding gums could be a symptom of a more acute medical condition, which might ask for orthodontic treatment.
Either way, bleeding gums are a sign of concern, though there is no need for panicking. Here at Loudoun Orthodontics, we believe that our patients must learn how to inhibit and prevent blood flow from the gums through a more comprehensive oral care regimen and an improved lifestyle. Therefore, keeping better tabs on your dental habits, coupled with healthier life choices, will inhibit future bleeding gums and keep your confident, healthy smile in the best shape!
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Common Bleeding Gums Causes
There is no single culprit behind bleeding gums. Usually, several reasons contribute to bleeding gums simultaneously, out of which we handpicked the most frequent ones:
#1: Vigorous Brushing and Flossing
Every excessive activity can become harmful, and brushing and flossing are no strangers to it. Although with good intentions at heart, vigorous brushing and flossing can actually turn against the tooth. The excessive pressure will gradually erode the enamel (i.e., the tooth’s exterior layer, devoid of nerves, which covers the dentin), which does not repair itself when damaged, cause dental sensitivity and gum recession, and increase the risk for cavities.
This, however, should not discourage you from your brushing and flossing routine; on the contrary, bleeding is the gum’s way of asking for softer brushing and flossing. Therefore, teach yourself to brush your teeth more gently, with a soft-bristled toothbrush, if possible. Once you have updated your oral care regimen, bleeding should steadily decrease.
#2: Periodontitis and Gingivitis
On the other side of the spectrum lies a poor oral care regimen with its primary gum diseases: gingivitis and periodontitis. Lack of constant tooth brushing and flossing leads to plaque and tartar buildup, which, if not removed, can infect the gums. Consequently, the gums will become tender and swollen and bleed when brushing. In more extreme cases, gingivitis and periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.
Fortunately, you can easily prevent such dental conditions with proper oral hygiene. Aside from brushing and flossing after meals, we recommend that you rinse the oral cavity with an antibacterial mouthwash. In addition, setting a biannual check-up schedule in place will ensure that your oral health improvement measures are paying off.
#3: Vitamin Deficiencies
Bleeding gums are a reliable sign of insufficient nutrient intake. Most often, blood flow from the gums indicates Vitamin C and Vitamin K deficiencies — the former inhibits micro bleeding issues throughout the microvascular system, and the latter ensures proper blood clotting.
The following foods contribute to an adequate Vitamin C and Vitamin K intake:
#1: Vitamin C – broccoli, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, kale, kiwis, citrus fruits, strawberries, blackcurrants, thyme, parsley, lychees, papayas.
#2: Vitamin K – kale, spinach, watercress, lettuce, soybeans, mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and canola and olive oil.
Treatment for Bleeding Gums
Finding the proper treatment for bleeding gums starts with assessing the patient’s oral care habits – improper and inconstant tooth brushing and flossing, coupled with rare visits to the dentist, must be improved in order to alleviate bleeding gums.
Primarily, it would help if you learned how to brush your teeth properly, namely at a 45-degree angle (Bass technique). By choosing this brushing method, you will easily target the gingival sulcus (i.e., the meeting point between teeth and gums) and successfully remove any signs of plaque. Aside from holding the brush at a 45-degree angle, we recommend that you fight the tendency to brush your teeth in a back-and-forth sawing motion and apply a circular brushing pattern to ensure enhanced food particle removal.
A proper brushing technique calls for an adequate tool. Instead of toothbrushes with medium or hard bristles, why don’t you turn your attention towards soft or, more helpful, electric toothbrushes? The latter’s superior technological approach ensures thorough cleaning of the gingival sulcus without damaging your delicate gums. To complete your oral care regimen, make sure that you add an antiseptic mouthwash to minimize plaque formation and prevent gingivitis.
An extra measure of caution is always desirable when it comes to oral health; therefore, we recommend that you schedule at least a biannual check-up visit with your dentist. This is the perfect opportunity for your dentist to assess your oral health and discover any signs of plaque build-up or gum disease, inhibiting them from the start.
How to Avoid Bleeding Gums
Improving your oral care regimen is but a step towards bleeding gums prevention; further changes to your lifestyle significantly contribute to bleeding gums alleviation. Let us examine the three primary ways towards improved oral health:
#1: Healthy diet – there is no secret on how we depend on healthy, nutritious diets to stay happy and vigorous. Therefore, loading our diets with whole foods (vegetables and fruits) provides your gums with all the necessary nutrients. At the opposite pole, processed foods, rich in sugar and carbohydrates, are a haven for plaque build-up. However, this does not translate into a complete cut on sugar; moderation and brushing after sugar consumption will keep your teeth and gums healthy.
#2: Put down the cigarettes – nicotine intake affects the entire body indiscriminately. At a gingival level, tobacco smoke keeps precious nutrients away from gums and causes inflammation; down the road, the smoke can even lead to gum disease and oral cancer. Once you kick this habit, your gums will become healthier and bleed more seldom.
#3: Try and relax – increased stress levels can change our behavior and worsen our oral health. When stressed, numerous patients tend to skip their oral care regimen and increase their food intake, especially fast foods. At the same time, the immune system finds it harder to combat external threats and repel infection. With this in mind, focus on techniques that can help you declutter your mind and find your balance, such as breathing techniques or meditation.
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A Final Word
Bleeding gums is a common sight for numerous people, often pointing towards improper oral care regimens or more severe dental conditions. However, by improving your brushing and flossing techniques and letting go of unhealthy habits, you can prevent bleeding gums and keep your natural, confident smile dazzling!
Are you ready to discuss more on bleeding gums with an orthodontist? Do not hesitate to schedule a complimentary consultation at Loudoun Orthodontics! In the meantime, make sure to check out our blog for more information on orthodontic treatments.