Woman Flossing TeethThe sight of blood is often a bad sign. You know that when you bleed, you’re injured and something isn’t right. We bleed when the protective tissues of our bodies are cut, torn and injured.

What does it mean when your gums bleed?

Bleeding gums is one of the main reasons people give for not flossing. They don’t want to injure or irritate their gums. After all, who likes the taste of blood in their mouths?

While overly zealous teeth brushing and flossing can scratch gums and cause them to bleed, the more common reason gums bleed is gum disease.

What is Gum Disease

Gum disease is caused by inadequate dental care and hygiene, mainly the absence of flossing as a part of one’s daily oral care routine.

When there is a lack of or infrequent flossing and teeth brushing, leftover food particles can get lodged between teeth and around the bottom of teeth at or just below the gum line. When these food particles and sugars from drinks are allowed to decay and decompose in the mouth, an acid is produced. This is the type of acid that eats away at tooth enamel and causes cavities (tooth decay).

This acid will also destroy gum tissue surrounding teeth. The weakening of the gum tissue makes the gums more sensitive and prone to inflammation, injury and bleeding. With gum disease, the gums will bleed even when the they are gently brushed with a soft toothbrush.

Gum disease has two levels with the first, less severe one being called gingivitis, and the second, more severe one being called periodontitis.

A patient with gingivitis will likely not experience pain or discomfort, but will likely experience bleeding gums. This less severe stage of gum disease is the most common and the easiest to cure and reverse.

Gingivitis can progress into periondontis if it isn’t treated. Patients with periodontis will have gums that not only bleed easily, but may experience discomfort and red, swollen and inflamed gums. As periondontis progresses, the gums recede from the teeth, enlarging the pockets along the gum line where more debris, plaque and tartar can form.

In the most severe cases of perionditis, teeth get loose and fall out and the bone tissue of the jaw become damaged, weakened and brittle.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

The biggest and most preventable solution to avoid gum disease and bleeding gums is to maintain an adequate oral hygiene routine consisting of teeth brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist.

Proper at-home dental hygiene includes brushing and flossing twice a day, every day, using a soft-bristle toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste and deep flossing along both sides of each tooth. When you floss, be sure to reach just below the gum line.

You should brush your teeth and gums gently, with a soft-bristled toothbrush that is changed every three months. The process is tedious and time consuming and your gums may bleed if you’re not already into the habit of flossing. However, your oral and overall health will thank you.

In addition to proper teeth brushing and flossing, seeing the dentist every six months for a dental exam and cleaning is also important. At these checkups, the dentist will be able to catch the early stages of gum disease.

A healthy diet can also strengthen your gums, making them more resistant to gum disease. Foods that are high in sugar, simple carbohydrates and  caffeine, and which is chewy, hard and sticky increase the amount of food particles getting stuck between teeth and along the gum line. The mature of these food particles also make them tougher to clean and remove.

A nutritious diet of fruits and vegetables, along with lean meat, will give your teeth, gums and jaws the minerals, vitamins and other nutrients they need to be healthy and strong.

Bleeding gums are indeed things to be concerned about and you should come in and schedule an appointment with us at Marshall, Shofner & Phan Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry. Contact us today so we can treat your bleeding gums.