Why do my gums bleed?

The following scene may ring a bell... you're at the sink, brushing your teeth, and when you spit out you notice that you've bled. If this has happened to you or still happens to you, read on.

First of all, when gums bleed, it is because they are inflamed, which is a symptom of a change in our body, a problem associated with a habit or, directly, a disease, so it is important to go to the doctor to find out what has caused our gums to become inflamed, only then can we effectively treat the cause, which will also stop the bleeding.

Some reasons why our gums may bleed:

Neglecting hygiene for a few daysPerhaps during a trip, a cold, if we have been hospitalised or have had a close relative in hospital and have spent a lot of time with them... or simply because we have accumulated a few days off or holidays and we have 'relaxed'. If we go from taking care of our daily dental hygiene as we should to 'leaving it a little aside', it is likely that when we go back to brushing properly, some areas will bleed. In that case, the best advice I can give you is to brush thoroughly there. Don't make the classic mistake of stopping brushing to 'see if it heals', as it will be worse. If after two or three days you continue to bleed, then yes, you will need to be seen.

Due to side effects of medicationSome medications may cause inflammation of the gums and acidification of the PH of saliva among their side effects, or perhaps dry mouth, which will lead to increased tartar or caries formation and localised bleeding.

Hormonal changesHormonal changes such as those caused by pregnancy, adolescence or the menopause, among others, are very pronounced in the gums, giving rise to inflammation and the formation of supra and sub gingival calculus.

Quitting smokingTobacco is tremendously harmful to oral health, something you are undoubtedly aware of whether you are a smoker or not, because nowadays (and by law) even cigarette packets carry advertisements warning about it. This is because, among other reasons, the irrigation and oxygenation of the gums decreases, so that in general a smoker will always have bad gums. Even so, when giving up tobacco, it is possible that the patient's gums may start to bleed. However, this is a good sign, as it is due to the fact that they have become inflamed because they are regaining oxygenation. Normally a smoker's gums do not bleed, despite their poor state of health, due to the poor irrigation caused by smoking.  

When wearing orthodontics, bridges or implantsAny artificial item in the mouth is more likely to be invaded by bacteria and thus inflame the gums and cause bleeding more easily.

These are some of the reasons, but you may still be wondering, okay, but....

Why does the bleeding happen?

Due to the presence of plaque or dental calculusThis is what has actually happened in most of the above cases we have described. It also tends to happen to most people when it has been a while since their last dental hygiene, no matter how good their home hygiene routine is, and that is why we usually schedule them every so often, depending on the patient's needs, to prevent this type of case.

Dental plaque accumulates between the teeth and the gums, which together with bacteria causes dental calculus, which irritates the gums and causes inflammation. The gum will then increase in size, lose its healthy shape and colour and bleed, sometimes causing discomfort and sometimes not.

If this condition leads to loss of the bone supporting the teeth, it is called gingivitis, a reversible disease. However, if not treated in time, it will continue to progress leading to bone destruction, called periodontal disease.

Treatment for bleeding gums

To treat what we have already established as the most probable cause of bleeding gums, the accumulation of calculus or plaque, the best thing to do is to carry out oral hygiene in the dental office, adapted to your needs and your periodontal health. In addition, these sessions always offer advice on how to maintain this hygiene at home. If this is the cause of your bleeding gums, the inflammation will disappear.

Final advice

Remember, bleeding is only the tip of the iceberg. Although some toothpastes advertise in their commercials that they are capable of eliminating it, in reality this will not happen, because what needs to be eliminated is the cause that provokes it. This does not mean that many of these pastes are not good allies in the fight against gingivitis. In consultation we can guide you on which is the best one to use after your treatment.

Although at first glance bleeding may seem unpleasant and we may even try to deny it or wait for it to pass on its own, we should take it as an alarm signal that our body is giving us to tell us that something is not as it should be and that we should go to professionals to solve it.

If you suffer from this problem, or would like more information about it, you can contact us through our usual channels, request an appointment online or call 968 28 46 28 and arrange an assessment or hygiene appointment.

Author: Marina Millán (Dental Hygienist)