Are Bleeding Gums Normal?
When you notice bleeding gums, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible. Bleeding gums may be an indication of gum disease. Professionals categorize gum disease into two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. This bacterial infection is caused by plaque buildup in the mouth. If left untreated, gum disease can result in tooth and bone loss.
Many dentists stress the importance of early intervention. During the earliest stage of gum disease, also known as gingivitis, the gums often appear red or swollen and bleed during brushing or flossing. In many cases, a dentist can reverse the effects of gingivitis through conservative treatment. If gingivitis is left unaddressed, it can lead to an advanced stage of gum disease called periodontitis.
During periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth, causing deep pockets to form above and below the gum line. These pockets are full of bacteria that slowly eat away at the gum tissue and bone structure used to support the teeth. Over time, the gum tissue and bone weaken until they can no longer support the teeth, resulting in tooth loss.
How to Prevent Bleeding Gums
Most patients only want to visit the dentist when a dental concern arises. The issue with that is that visiting the dentist only when you have a problem can be detrimental to your dental health in the long run. Scheduling routine dental exams allows your dentist to spot any signs of dysfunction and create a treatment plan for you.
The practice of health-centered dentistry focuses on the idea that diseases like gum disease are almost entirely preventable. We believe routine maintenance and great nutrition are great ways to reduce your risk of gum disease. You may want to incorporate these tips into your routine to maintain healthy gums.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss your teeth
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks
- Avoid tobacco and smoking
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash
Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by chronic inflammation in the mouth and should be treated as early as possible to avoid further complications. When gum disease is left untreated, you are at a higher risk of losing one or more of your permanent teeth. Gum disease remains one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. If you notice bleeding gums or one of the other symptoms listed below, we encourage you to visit our dentist’s office for a routine dental exam.
Common Signs of Gum Disease:
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Receding gum line
For patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes, it is especially important that they visit the dentist regularly. Diabetic patients routinely deal with inflammation flare-ups and may have poor blood sugar control, putting them at a higher risk of developing gum disease.
Be aware of your risks and schedule a biannual dental visit to our Los Altos dentist office. Dr. Schweifler can assess your risks and recommend the appropriate treatment for your smile.
The Stages of Gum Disease
There are multiple different stages of gum disease that you can go through. The longer you put off treatment, the more severe the condition becomes and the harder it is to manage.
This is the first stage of gum disease and the only one that’s reversible. Many adults in the United States have this condition but don’t realize it because the symptoms aren’t prominent and painful. The most likely symptom you’ll experience is bleeding gums. Watch out for them regularly, especially when brushing or flossing. We treat this with diligent oral healthcare and more frequent cleanings. We may also prescribe an antibiotic rinse to use.
Gingivitis is caused by plaque and tartar building up on teeth and irritating the gum tissue. When you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, bacteria and food debris bind together to form a film of plaque on your teeth. When you continue to avoid oral healthcare, that film hardens into tartar, which is harder to eliminate.
Mild Periodontal Disease
At this stage, we can no longer reverse the condition. We can only manage it. The bacteria at this stage are more aggressive and start to destroy the jawbone, leading to bone loss. We use scaling and root planing to manage the condition at this stage. Gum pockets develop, and bacteria and debris accumulate in them. We clean out these gum pockets and then smooth down the tooth roots so that the gum tissue can reattach to the bone.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
The bacteria continue to get more aggressive at this stage. Not only are they attacking bone, but they get into your bloodstream as well. Your bloodstream can take the infection and inflammation around to other areas of your body and cause problems. Like mild periodontal disease, we use scaling and root planing to manage.
Severe Periodontal Disease
The infection completely evolves into harmful bacteria. Your gums are swollen and ooze with pus and blood. You’ll experience severe sensitivity and bad breath. Since their base is being attacked, your teeth become loose and can even fall out. At this stage, only gum surgery and laser periodontal treatment can address the issue. We’ll refer you to a periodontal specialist if you reach this stage.
Health-Centered Dental Care for Gum Disease
As a health-centered dental practice, Dr. Schweifler and our team aim to educate our patients on the importance of maintaining excellent oral health. Many patients don’t realize there is a direct link between the mouth and the body, often called the oral-systemic link. Many studies suggest that gum disease and inflammation increase a patient’s risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and arthritis. To combat this, addressing inflammation and oral disease may help improve your overall health.
If you are exhibiting signs of gum disease, it is vital that you undergo a complete oral health examination. During your exam, Dr. Schweifler will screen you for gum disease and assess the condition of your oral cavity. He will create a customized gum disease treatment plan that is designed to eliminate infected gum tissue, repair damage, and reduce your risk for reinfection.
It’s one thing to simply just control the disease, but it is another thing to equip you with the tools you need to achieve optimal oral health. We aim to educate our patients on improving their dental health and become active partners in their recovery.
Bleeding Gums FAQs
I am pregnant. Are bleeding gums normal?
Bleeding gums are typically a sure sign of gingivitis. However, if you are pregnant, your gums may become inflamed and bleed simply due to the hormonal changes in your body. If you are pregnant, continuing your regular dental care is even more important. If your gums continue to bleed or worsen, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Schweifler and let him know you are pregnant.
I take good care of my teeth, yet my gums still bleed. Should I be concerned?
You should schedule an appointment with Dr. Schweifler if you continue to have bleeding gums and brush and floss regularly. There are other causes of bleeding gums besides gum disease that can be very serious. If Dr. Schweifler eliminates the possibility of gingivitis, he may refer you to your general practitioner for further testing.
Are my dentures making my gums bleed?
Possibly! Ill-fitting dentures can cause sores or small scratches in your mouth that will bleed. This happens when the denture does not fit correctly and begins to move and shift within the mouth. Partial dentures actually sit on the gums, which can also lead to irritation and bleeding. If your dentures are causing your gums to bleed, you should have them fixed or replaced.
How long do bleeding gums last?
The bleeding should stop in 3 to 10 days if you treat your bleeding gums appropriately by practicing an increased oral care routine at home. Make sure to floss frequently to aid as well because flossing strengthens gum tissue.
What happens if bleeding gums are left untreated?
Gingivitis and periodontitis can develop due to untreated gum disease and bleeding gums. If you do not get dental treatment, these problems could spread to your entire body. Gum bleeding is the most common symptom of gingivitis.
What vitamins are you lacking if you have bleeding gums?
It has been known for more than 30 years that vitamin C levels and gum bleeding are related. In fact, two studies (published in 1986 and 1991) co-authored by Paul Robertson, a former dean of the UW School of Dentistry, revealed gum bleeding as a biological marker for low vitamin C levels. One way to help your gums heal is to increase your intake of vitamin C. This can be done through your diet or by taking an oral supplement.