Your gum tissue will look firm and pinkish in color if you have healthy gums. However, unhealthy gums may be red, swollen or puffy, tender, or you may be experiencing bleeding gums. When you brush and floss your teeth, a healthy gum tissue will not bleed. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of American adults have some form of gum disease. Drs. Lepore and Dougherty at Lepore Comprehensive Dentistry in Dunedin, Florida, like to say, “if every time you washed your hands, your fingers bled, how concerned would you be? But bleeding when we “wash” our teeth with brushing and flossing is okay? A little blood in the sink is not okay.”
Bleeding gums may be a sign of gum disease. In addition to bleeding gums, other symptoms of gum disease include bad breath (halitosis), receding gums, or even loose teeth.
The most common causes of bleeding gums:
–Inflammation caused by harmful bacterial plaque, which accumulates around teeth and at/below the gum line. This inflammation is your body trying to defend itself against bacterial invasion. These bacteria also release toxins that accelerate the inflammatory process. Bleeding gums, at a minimum, is gingivitis. When this process continues, the chronic inflammation can irreversibly erode the bone surrounding the teeth. This process is called periodontitis.
- Hormonal changes (such as pregnancy and menopause)
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Blood thinners
Why is it so important?
The link between the health of your mouth and overall health is known as the oral-systemic connection. Certain bacteria in your mouth can result in chronic inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and more.
Ways to prevent or reduce bleeding gums:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily.
- Floss your teeth at least once daily.
- Visit your dentist a minimum of twice a year.
- Establish baseline with tests (Salivary Diagnostics – see below) with follow-up testing to see improvement
- Low-level hydrogen peroxide delivery via customized trays (PerioProtect – see below)
- Changing the oral flora bacterial flora composition by use of oral probiotics (ProBiora Pro – see below)
Gingivitis: The do’s and don’ts with Dr. Lepore
Hey, guys, Dr. Lepore back with another frequently asked question video. This time we are going to talk about “why do my gums bleed?” Is it really normal, is it really common? We’ll address that right now. So is a little blood in the sink really that big of a deal? And the answer is yes. I love this analogy, “if you wash your hands every single day and you scrubbed them together, and you looked, and every time you looked, they bled? You’d probably be concerned, and you’d probably go to a doctor about it. Now is it really that different when you’re scrubbing your gums or brushing your teeth? And the answer is no. Bleeding is a sign of inflammation, so we call that Gingivitis. I’m sure you’ve heard it on every toothpaste and toothbrush commercial since the beginning of time. But what does it mean really? It’s when the food you eat mixes with the minerals in your saliva and makes something called plaque. Plaque then gets hardened by the same minerals in your saliva into something that we called tartar and calculus. When that is there for a period of time, your body treats that as a war and wants to attack, attack, attack until it goes away. But just like barnacles on the side of a sea wall, unless you go and physically scrub that away, it stays there, and the problem is when it stays there. Gums that bleed for a very long period of time will start to cause bone loss around the teeth. It’s the same thing as when you get a splinter in your finger, and you left it there. Left untreated, if you looked down and it was taking away the finger or the bone in the finger, you’d be scared out of your mind. But in our mouth it doesn’t hurt, so we don’t see it, so we don’t think anything about it. But this is a number one cause of tooth loss; it’s not taking care of our gums and our teeth. It’s not the cavities; it’s the gums. So, embarrassingly enough, I’m one of those patients that have to get cleanings more often because I’m at a higher risk. What makes me a higher risk is that my gums notoriously have bled since I was a little boy. I thought it was just me, but even since becoming a dentist and brushing and flossing two to three times a day, I felt a little defeated when I wasn’t getting the results I was after. And that’s when believe it or not, I had to humble myself before our hygienist team, and they gave me some tips and tricks like a different toothpaste and even as simple as a different type of floss or insider trading secret; I had to learn how to floss better. A little embarrassing for a dentist, but they still were able to teach me these things, and I know that they can teach you these things as well. If for a long period of time, let’s say you are a patient that has a history of gum disease or periodontal disease. In our office, we can fabricate for you a custom set of trays that are made in a laboratory that help deliver medication. So let’s talk about that medication; it’s actually hydrogen peroxide, which your body produces naturally, so it’s a very natural ingredient that kills the bacteria that causes this inflammation, that causes the gums to bleed, that causes the bone to be lost around them. And then it’s something that I wear for 20 minutes every day once a day, and voila, things have been notoriously better since. So a lot of times, it’s just one or two simple tricks or tips that we can give you to get you over the hump to help take away that feeling of feeling defeated, that every time you brush or floss, there is always a little bleeding spot. We can help you, and we look forward to doing so.
How to treat gum disease:
Here at Lepore Comprehensive Dentistry, we can effectively treat your gum inflammation or, if applicable, gum disease through a variety of methods:
- Salivary Diagnostics is a simple test completed in our office to detect oral pathogens that cause decay or gum disease and can threaten your oral and systemic health. This test can help determine if you are at an increased risk of periodontal disease, decay, heart disease, stroke, and more. Click here to learn more
- Prophylaxis Cleaning (Basic Cleaning) – A prophylaxis or basic cleaning is otherwise known as a healthy mouth cleaning and is the removal of dental plaque. During your prophylaxis, Drs. Lepore and Dougherty, alongside their team, will do a thorough examination of your teeth and gums
- Periodontal SRP Therapy (Periodontal Therapy Cleaning) – SRP is the removal of harmful dental plaque and tartar from the surfaces of the roots.
- Periodontal Maintenance (Maintenance for Perio Patients) – A type of dental cleaning following periodontal therapy that includes the removal of plaque and calculus from above and below the gum line. The difference between periodontal maintenance and a prophylaxis is periodontal maintenance treats active gum disease, whereas a prophy is preventive
- Oral Probiotics: Support gum and tooth health by binding to the teeth and flourishing below the gum tissue. Oral probiotics also promote whiter teeth, fresher breath and greater overall oral health
PerioProtect: Custom trays are fabricated to correspond to your individualized pocket probing depths and may be recommended for those with chronic gingivitis, periodontal disease, or undergoing periodontal maintenance.
The only way to treat gum disease and stop your gums from bleeding is by seeking professional treatment. Call us today at (727) 608-4690 to schedule your dental cleaning.