Healthy gums don’t bleed. The dentistry team at Cobblestone Park Family Dental has been helping Oklahoma City residents better understand oral health for many years.
We’ll explain the causes of bleeding and swollen gums, how to prevent them, and how to seek treatment. Sometimes sensitive or bleeding gums indicate health issues–like gum disease or nutritional deficiencies–but the causes aren’t as severe other times. If you do feel your bleeding gums are serious and need attention quickly, call our team today. We would love to help!
Keep reading this article to learn more about the causes of bleeding or swollen gums and how to promote positive oral health daily. Your routine oral health habits make a difference in the overall health of your teeth and gums.
Why are my gums bleeding, swollen or bright red?
You will likely find abundant information about gingivitis and gum disease when researching bleeding gums. Inflamed, irritated, or bleeding gums are often a sign of gum disease (also called periodontitis or periodontal disease). Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissues that hold your teeth in place. It can also spread to the bones surrounding the gums, and if it progresses, it can cause tooth loss. It is caused by plaque (or bacteria) build up along the gum line, and then that bacteria irritates and infects the gums.
There are many terms used to describe inflammation and infection of the gums. Gingivitis is the term used for mild or early-stage gum disease. As gingivitis progresses, your dentist may call it periodontitis or periodontal disease.
Gum disease progression signs and symptoms to watch for:
- Bright red gums
- Swollen, puffy, or inflamed gums
- Sensitivity in the gums or teeth
- Bleeding when flossing or brushing
- Bad breath
- Sour or unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Movement or shifting in teeth or bite
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
- Pain when chewing
Thankfully, gum disease is preventable and treatable. If you are diligent with brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings at the dentist’s office, you may never experience significant gingivitis development or progression. However, if you already have gingivitis or signs of periodontitis, it’s important to visit our office for a cleaning and consultation with an Oklahoma City dentist. Our team can provide interventions to slow or reverse the effects of gum disease.
The most important steps to prevent gum disease are practicing good oral hygiene daily and visiting the dentist every six months for regular cleanings and preventative care. In fact, studies have shown that there is a link between gum health and overall health. Caring for your teeth and gums doesn’t just benefit your oral health. It also reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
What are the leading causes of bleeding and swollen gums?
Gingivitis and gum disease are common culprits for bleeding and swollen gums. However, there are plenty of other reasons we see dental patients in OKC with bleeding gums.
Additional Causes of Swollen, Irritated, or Bleeding Gums
- Rough or New Flossing and Brushing Routines – If you are beginning to brush or floss your teeth with a new commitment or perhaps just a new stiff toothbrush, you may experience some bleeding. After introducing brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush and flossing daily into your routine for a couple of weeks, you should not experience gum irritation. Be sure to ask your dentist for tips on brushing correctly at your next visit.
- Hormonal Changes, Pregnancy, and Menopause – Hormonal changes often cause swollen, irritated gums. Hormonal changes during puberty can result in gum sensitivity. Additionally, women who are pregnant or those experiencing menopause may have bleeding or sensitive gums. During menopause, women may notice changes like dry mouth or bone density loss. These changes can impact the gums as well. In pregnancy, gingivitis is common too. Our team can help meet your changing needs throughout all life stages to ensure optimal oral health.
- Smoking, Vaping, and Drug Use – It is well known that smoking, vaping, and drug abuse can negatively impact your oral health. Drug use can cause swollen and inflamed gums and introduce bacteria into your mouth, which can cause infection. The health complications of tobacco and drugs impact your overall health, and your gums are not immune. Talk to your dentist and primary care provider for information about the impact of smoking, vaping, and drugs and to find help to quit.
- Health Conditions and Illnesses – Certain conditions can also cause gum sensitivity or bleeding. If you have diabetes, you may notice swollen gums more often than someone without diabetes. The disease may weaken your immune system and make fighting infection – even in your gums more difficult. Similarly, autoimmune disorders, cancer, blood diseases, or other illnesses can also affect the gums.
- Stress – Intense stress often causes inflammation in the body, including gum inflammation. Also, stress and anxiety can compromise the immune system and, like other health conditions, your body may struggle to fight infection, leading to a higher risk for gum disease.
- Medications – Most commonly, blood thinning medications can lead to bleeding gums. Due to the nature of these medicines, the ability of your blood to clot decreases. Therefore flossing or vigorous brushing may lead to more blood than you are accustomed to seeing. Medicines that may increase the risk of bleeding gums include blood thinners, ibuprofen or aspirin, some forms of birth control, and NSAIDs, among others.
- Poor Nutrition – Another cause of inflammation or bleeding of the gums is poor nutrition and vitamin deficiency. Your diet impacts overall health and oral health. Choosing foods that are nutrient-rich is important. Limit the amount of sugary and starchy foods you eat (which can cause inflammation), and instead choose foods rich in magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamins C and D. You will likely find yourself with more energy, and your gums will thank you, too!
- Misaligned Bite or Braces – Finally, for some, inflamed or swollen gums are caused by a misaligned bite or braces. Misaligned (or moving teeth) can apply pressure to your teeth in a way that irritates your gums and jaw. If you are experiencing the impact of a misaligned bite, the Cobblestone Park Family Dental team can help.
Take the first step to excellent gum health
Regardless of the cause of your bleeding or irritated gums, our team can provide the support and care you need. Cobblestone Park Family Dentistry is committed to helping Edmond and Oklahoma City residents achieve healthy, beautiful smiles.
If you are ready for a checkup or cleaning and want to ask how to help your bleeding and swollen gums, contact us today to make an appointment.