Why do my gums bleed and how can I treat this problem?

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Quite often our patients ask us if a little bleeding after brushing and flossing is normal. The answer is no! If the technique used to brush and floss is correct and atraumatic, no bleeding should be present.

Gums bleed mainly because they are swollen. Swelling is a response to bacterial plaque along the gumline. Bacterial plaque is the accumulation of food debris and bacteria. When the body tries to fight the bacteria in this plaque, the gums become inflamed. This is called Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

As stated previously, bacterial plaque is the main reason for bleeding gums; yet sometimes, it is not only incorrect brushing that causes bacterial plaque buildup. Dental decay or poorly adjusted fillings can make this plaque more difficult to remove.

Additional causes for gingivitis:

  • Hormonal changes: During puberty, menstruation and pregnancy, it is common to experience an increase in gingival bleeding. Thus, it is crucial that a person´s oral hygiene routine during these periods be more rigorous.
  • Medications: Birth control pills can have an effect that manifest as gingivitis. Therefore, women who use this treatment should follow a strict brushing and flossing regimen and visit their dentist every 6 months for a dental cleaning.
  • Systemic disease: Conditions such as Leukemia and Diabetes Mellitus can have an oral manifestation. Therefore, if symptoms don’t improve after modifying a patient’s brushing and flossing techniques, it is extremely important that the patient be re-evaluated by a dentist to rule out other conditions.

How do we treat bleeding gums?

  1. The first step is to visit your dentist to check for dental decay or poorly fitting restorations. The patient shouldt then have a dental cleaning to remove tartar (dental calculus). This substance firmly attached to the teeth and can be removed only with special instruments used by a dentist.
  2. Establish an oral hygiene routine using a soft toothbrush and floss. Brushing should be carried out for 2 minutes twice a day, and flossing can be done once a day. If the patient has large spaces between their teeth, crowns, bridges or implants, additional tools such as a special floss and an interproximal toothbrush should be added to the routine.
  3. A mouth rinse can be included as an aid in the patient´s oral hygiene. This product will not replace the need to floss, but it will take care of hard-to-reach places as the cheek and tonsils.

Remember that in order to maintain your oral health and keep your gums and teeth healthy, it is important to visit your dentist every 6 months!

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