Bleeding gum is a common condition suffered by a lot of people worldwide. It can be due to multiple reasons; some might be severe issues, while others might be due to careless oral hygiene and can be reversed with appropriate care.
The most common symptom of the condition is bleeding gums. It is a visual reference that can be identified easily by noticing the gums or observing the presence of blood when spitting or biting into food.
Although this is the most evident symptom, depending on the cause of bleeding gums, there might be other symptoms to look out for, which can prevent damage to the gums.
If one is suffering from bleeding gums due to gingivitis, the symptoms include:
• Bleeding gums, especially when brushing or eating
• Redness in the gums
• Swollen gums
If one is suffering from periodontitis, the symptoms include:
• Swollen gums with redness
• Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth that persists
• Bleeding gums and tenderness
• Pain when chewing
• Loose teeth
• Sensitive teeth
• Receding gums (gums that pull away from teeth making them look longer)
• Change in how the partial dentures fit
• Change in how your teeth fit when you bite something
Bleeding gums can sometimes be serious and point towards an underlying condition. It can also be temporary and might get better in time.
It is essential to consult a dentist if the following signs or symptoms occur.
• If bleeding doesn’t subside and is long-term or chronic
• If bleeding continues after treatment or remedies
• If bleeding is due to no explainable reason
• If any of the symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis are seen, as mentioned before
In case the symptoms are recurring or point towards any underlying condition, it is crucial that a dentist should be consulted immediately.
Any delay can further deteriorate the condition, and in cases like periodontitis, there are chances that the damage might be irreversible, and loss of teeth could happen.
One of the primary reasons for bleeding is the development of plaque in the lining of the gums. Plaque contains a lot of bacteria. Plaque forms continuously in the mouth from foods or drinks that we consume.
When the gums are exposed to plaque for a longer duration of time, the bacteria cause the immune system to respond with an inflammation. When this situation worsens, it can lead to other conditions that can cause further damage.
It is a milder form of gum disease that happens due to excessive plaque build-up in the gum line. The bacteria present in the mouth break down sugar, and the by-product can cause infection in the gums that lead to the inflammation, redness, and bleeding of the gum.
The plaque build-up can become hard near the gums; they are then referred to as tartar or calculus and need professional help to get rid of them.
When excess plaque deposit is not removed, it can spread into the pockets between the teeth and gums, making the pockets deeper and more difficult to reach with a toothbrush.
• When this plaque gets converted to calculus over the gum line, it is called supra-gingival calculus
• If it’s below the gum line, it is called sub-gingival calculus.
Both of these can be harmful and can further spread down to the root of the teeth.
Health effects: This is a worsened case of gingivitis and can damage the soft tissue and the bone that holds the teeth in place. In worst cases, the inflammation can damage the jaw and the bones around the teeth, exposing the roots and making them loose. In this case, teeth might have to be removed.
Precaution: People suffering from periodontitis should remember that it doesn’t heal on its’ own, and one should consult a dentist at the earliest.
Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C heals wounds, strengthens bones and teeth, and helps with tissue growth and repair. Loss of vitamin C can cause swelling and bleeding in gums.
Excess deficiency of vitamin C can cause scurvy, which is characterized by bleeding gums. It can also cause anemia, make you weak and lead to blood loss under the skin.
Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K helps form clots in the blood, and its deficiency can lead to inefficiency in clotting wounds. Lack of vitamin K can lead to bleeding problems in the gums.
Hemophilia or Von Willebrand Disease
It is another disorder related to improper clotting of blood due to a lack of blood-clotting protein. People suffering from hemophilia can take longer for a wound to heal compared to a healthy person, and bleeding gums could be a symptom of it.
A condition which causes bleeding due to low platelet count, it stops the formation of clots when injured. Unwanted bleeding of gums can be a sign of this condition.
It is a sort of cancer of the blood and bone marrow, which can cause undesirable and easy bleeding, and sometimes bleeding gums can point towards this condition.
High blood sugar can increase plaque formation and lead to conditions like gingivitis or periodontitis, leading to bleeding gums. Diabetes patients also find it difficult to heal wounds, which can make gum infections worse.
Many blood-thinning medications that are used for other health conditions like stroke or cardiovascular diseases may have side effects or lead to persistent bleeding from the gums.
If one is new to flossing, is starting a new habit, or using a new technique to floss, they can experience bleeding gums and might take a few days to subside. In case the bleeding persists, visit a dentist.
• Brushes with hard bristles are often tough on the gums, and using a new brush roughly can induce bleeding in the gums.
• Brushing too hard and being forceful on the gums can also lead to bleeding.
Following a proper routine is essential. Not taking care of the teeth due to improper oral hygiene can cause plaque deposits leading to inflammation, redness, and bleeding. It can also further deteriorate to gum diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis.
There are a lot of changes in the body occurring during pregnancy due to excess hormone production. This also increases the blood flow to the gums and makes them more sensitive to plaque.
• Pregnancy gingivitis can occur in such cases, usually during the second trimester, causing swelling or bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing.
Unwanted and excess stress is also related to higher chances of inflammation and bleeding in gums,along with the onset of periodontal disease. This is due to the adverse effect of stress on the immune system, making it weak and more susceptible to gum infections.
Excessive smoking can also lead to bacterial growth in the gums and can also make it difficult for the immune system to fight infection or inflammation. This can lead to bleeding gums.
• People who smoke regularly have twice the risk of gum disease compared to a non-smoker.
Dentures or dental appliances that are too tight or hurt the gums can cause damage leading to bleeding.
When the problem of bleeding gum persists, it is important to visit a dentist to rule out any possible diseases and to find the cause of the issue.
Visual examination is the most common procedure that one might experience when visiting a dentist. It is an important method in determining the cause of any and all dental problems, including bleeding gums.
Dentists often inspect the teeth and gums closely under a strong beam of light. In case of bleeding gums, they might look for visual clues that help them determine the cause, which are mentioned below.
• Signs of gum inflammation
• Receding gums and exposure of the roots of the teeth
• Bleeding gums upon contact with dental equipment
They can also conduct special tests for periodontitis using a periodontal probe.
In case the teeth and gums seem fine, one might be suggested to take a blood test to identify any other underlying conditions.
• Leukemia and other diseases due to blood clotting problems can be diagnosed using a biopsy or blood test.
• Deficiency of certain vitamins can also be found out using specific blood tests.
• Diabetes can also be identified after performing a blood test to check the blood sugar.
Dentists might also be concerned with one’s history of other medical conditions along with any medication being consumed, as it helps shed more light on the cause. History of dental issues in the past can also help identify the cause.
Severity of the issues like periodontitis can be identified by an X-Ray. It can also help identify any other dental issues that one might face.
The issue can be tackled with both short term remedies for immediate relief and long term remedies to prevent the condition from occurring again. Most minor cases can easily be tackled with remedies performed at home, while severe cases might need medical attention.
Press a small ice-pack or an ice cube to the affected area. It will help to reduce the inflammation and pain and also suppress bleeding.
Gauze can be used for any small injury on the body to prevent the blood flow. Use a damp gauze dipped in cold water and gently squeeze it on the affected area till blood flow stops.
Salt is known to reduce inflammation and help clean bacteria.Gargle and rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution, which can help stop bleeding and reduce the pain.
Hydrogen Peroxide can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria in the mouth. It can help remove plaque, improve gum health and reduce bleeding.
Patients using a fluoridated hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse saw a significant reduction in gingivitis and whitening of teeth.
Maintain a regular routine that will help keep the teeth clean and the gums free of plaque.
• Brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning before eating and at night before bed.
• Floss your teeth daily or use an interdental brush to remove plaque
• Use a soft toothbrush in case of inflammation
• Avoid putting too much pressure and brush in circular motions, keeping the toothbrush facing away from the gums
• Use a toothpaste with fluoride
• Use antibacterial mouthwash which will help reduce inflammation and bleeding
• Plan dentist appointments regularly to check and prevent any condition from getting worse
• Change the toothbrush every 3-4 months, once it wears out
Diet also plays a major role in maintaining teeth health. Bleeding gums can also happen due to certain deficiencies in the diet, and hence it is important to pay attention to the diet being consumed.
Consume food rich in vitamin C to prevent scurvy and bleeding gums. It can also help fight inflammation and improve healing.
Vitamin C rich food includes:
• Citrus fruits and juices
It helps form blood clots, and consuming a diet rich in Vitamin K can slow down the bleeding as well as clot the blood faster.
Vitamin K rich foods include:
• Mustard greens
• Olive Oil
Consuming processed and high sugar food can cause increased plaque deposits due to the breakdown of sugar in the mouth. This can cause decay as well as other gum diseases.
Green tea is known to provide benefits for a multitude of diseases and can reduce stress. It is also considered as a practical method to prevent periodontal disease as it interferes with the body’s inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria.
Smoking can cause damage to the gums and the immune system, which can reduce the body’s ability to fight any gum diseases or plaque.
Stress is linked to gum diseases, as mentioned earlier, and also affects a lot of other health conditions. Avoid taking stress and practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga.
The treatment options are clearly dependent on the diagnosis of the condition that caused the bleeding in the first place.
Depending upon whether the condition is serious, one might have different solutions to the problem.
If the issue is not complicated, the dentist might just suggest the use of particular dental products for efficient cleaning, including toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash.
One might also be suggested an improved routine and techniques to maintain cleanliness.
Gingivitis: Although not a severe problem, it might need medical attention. The treatment procedure might include cleaning the gums and teeth properly to remove any hardened plaque or tartar. It can also be accompanied by the cleaning of any fillings or crowns that are protruding out.
Periodontitis: Being a more complicated condition, teeth need to be cleaned and scaled thoroughly,including removing all the plaque above and below the gum line along with cleaning the roots (also known as root planing or deep cleaning).
In scenarios where scaling and root planing aren’t of sufficient help, surgery might be required to clean the surface of the root of the teeth.
Conditions like leukemia require chemotherapy and radiation treatment as there are no surgeries available for the treatment. This can be suggested if one is experiencing bleeding due to it.
Persisting gum related problems are not to be neglected as they can often be signs of underlying medical conditions, and the sooner they are diagnosed, the quicker the treatment can be administered.
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