Bleeding Gums – What It Means and What to Do

Bleeding gums are a symptom of gum disease (gingivitis). Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque along the gumline (on, around, and in between the teeth).

Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on your teeth. It contains millions of bacteria which produce acid. If plaque is allowed to build then gums can become inflamed and irritated.

Healthy gums are pink in colour and if they become red it may be a sign that gum disease is setting in. Usually a person notices some blood after brushing teeth or flossing. This is due to irritation of the gums which have become more sensitive.

Occasional bleeding of the gums can be caused by brushing your teeth too hard or wearing dentures that don't fit correctly. Bleeding gums can also occur when you're under a lot of stress and anxiety.

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Gum disease is a common condition and isn’t usually a cause of concern. It is estimated that over half of the UK population experiences some form of gingivitis.

However, frequent gum bleeding can indicate more serious conditions including periodontitis (an advanced form of gum disease). If gum disease is left untreated this can become more severe and may even lead to tooth loss.

If you follow the call to action below and still suffer from frequent bleeding gums, you should book an immediate meeting with your dentist.

How Can I improve the health of my gums?

The best way to reduce the build-up of plaque and the risk for bleeding gums is to ramp up your oral care routine. Early gum disease is preventable, but only if you take action.

Here are a few ways you can help keep your gums healthy…

  1. Brush twice a day: Brushing is important as it removes food and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. You should brush your teeth each morning and evening and preferably after every meal. When brushing you should also scrub your tongue as it too can harbour bacteria. Getting a new toothbrush every three to four months is good practice once the soft bristles begin to fray.
  2. Floss: Flossing is useful for removing food and plaque that is beyond the reach of your toothbrush. You should aim to floss at least daily. It is best to include flossing in your routine in the morning or evening when brushing your teeth.
  3. Get regular dental check-ups and cleanings: You should visit your dentist regularly as they are best placed to detect the symptoms of gum disease, so that any symptoms can be treated before they become more serious. You should also regularly visit a hygienist for a professional cleaning, which is important to remove any tartar (hardened plaque) that has formed and which you won’t be able to brush off by cleaning your teeth with a toothbrush.
  4. Quit smoking: Smoking is heavily linked with the onset of gum disease. In addition, it masks the symptoms of gum disease, as nicotine restricts blood flow to the gums so you are less likely to experience bleeding gums. Furthermore, as smoking weakens your immune system, if you do end up suffering from gum disease, it makes it harder to fight off a gum infection.
  5. Use fluoride toothpaste: Make sure to choose toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts, depending on where you live in the UK. It can help prevent tooth decay which is why it is added to many brands of toothpaste.

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