Ask the Dentist – Why are my gums bleeding?
-by Dr Shruthi Dayal
Bleeding gums is a common thing for patients to encounter and when it occurs regularly it may be indicative of an underlying condition. The most common cause of bleeding gums is the build-up of plaque around the gumline. When plaque is not removed it causes inflammation of the gums or gingivitis. The gums become swollen, tender, and bleed easily. If the plaque is removed with proper oral hygiene, gingivitis is reversible. However, if left untreated gingivitis can lead to bone loss or periodontal disease which is an irreversible condition.
Another reason women may experience gum bleeding is pregnancy gingivitis. This condition affects about 50% of pregnant mothers and is caused because hormones change the body’s reaction to bacteria in the mouth. It is common for it to continue while a mother is breastfeeding, but no treatment is needed besides good oral hygiene habits.
Bleeding gums may also be caused by improper or aggressive brushing or flossing which can be traumatic to the gums and lead to recession. In addition there are a few systemic causes of bleeding gums such as Vitamin C or Vitamin K deficiencies and bleeding disorders like hemophilia and leukemia. Your gums may also bleed more often if you take blood thinning medications.
Although bleeding gums is a common occurrence knowing the underlying factor is important for maintaining your oral health. Your hygienist and dentist will talk to you about the best practices to keep your gums healthy which is an important part of having a healthy smile!