There is a common misconception that it is normal for gums to bleed during flossing and brushing. This is false and could potentially be hazardous to your dental health if left unchecked. It is normal for gums to bleed after you’ve started a new flossing or brushing routine, but only for a week or so.
If your gums bleed after daily flossing, this could be a sign of the early stage of the gum disease gingivitis. If left untreated, Gingivitis can develop into more pronounced problems such as periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. Periodontitis literally means “inflammation around the tooth” and happens when gums pull apart from teeth creating “pockets” that will become infected. This can lead to tissue damage and ultimately tooth loss. Individuals without a proper and consistent oral hygiene habit will usually develop gingivitis. Of those who advance to more serious stages of periodontal disease, 70% will develop a chronic version of the disease, which will get worse with age. Regular dentist visits are vital because early detection of gum disease will give you a better chance of reversing the damage already done.
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Preventive Action: Dentist Visits
Plaque is the main cause of gingivitis and requires a daily dental routine and regular checkups to keep it at bay. Whether or not your gums bleed when you floss or brush, scheduling a dental checkup every six months is the surest way to identifying gum disease early on. These visits give your dentist the chance to do an oral examination and determine if there are signs of gingivitis. They also allow for regular cleanings by a hygienist who will remove plaque buildup that forms under your gums and tartar that has hardened on your teeth. Routine check ups do not displace the daily oral hygiene routine you should have, rather, they clean the areas that your toothbrush and floss cannot reach. A dental hygienist is specially trained to identify and safely remove tartar and plaque.
For more questions about bleeding gums or to arrange a consultation with Dr. Brown, stop by our office located at 220 S. 16th St. Suite #300 in Philadelphia or call 215-546-4442.
Preventive Action: At Home Routine
Brushing your teeth twice a day should be an automatic part of your daily routine. If it isn’t already, start today! Be sure to use a soft bristled toothbrush to avoid causing gum recession from brushing too hard. Brushing should be done in a circular motion, for 2 minutes, spending an equal amount of time in each part of the mouth. After brushing has removed superficial food debris, floss. Flossing once a day is sufficient but be sure you also reach the teeth at the back of your mouth. To avoid damaging gums, follow the curve of your teeth.
Treatment for Bleeding Gums
If you have reached the advanced stages of gum disease, there is still time to fix the damage! Scaling and root planning are common procedures that dentists use to treat advanced periodontitis. Scaling is a process that removes tartar buildup from under the gum line and from teeth. Root planing involves meticulously cleaning root surfaces to get rid of plaque build up. This will remove the bacteria or plaque that caused the gum disease in the first place.
Other Possible Causes of Bleeding Gums
Be aware that gingivitis may not always be the cause of bleeding gums. If you are on a new medication and have consistent bleeding, consult your physician. Sometimes pregnant women experience “pregnancy gingivitis” due to hormone changes that cause greater sensitivity to plaque bacteria. These bacteria can create gum inflammation during pregnancy. Consistent dental hygiene habits and at least one dental appointment while pregnant can help diminish the effects of pregnancy gingivitis.
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