Bleeding Gum: Causes and Treatment
You probably have experienced bleeding gum after brushing or flossing at least once in your life. It’s likely that you just brushed it off, thinking it was no big deal. Well, that’s not entirely true. Bleeding gum can be the sign of a serious oral disease.
What are bleeding gums?
Bleeding gums are the most common sign of gum disease. However, they may also be caused by other health conditions. Most of the time, gum bleeding is caused by brushing too hard or improper use of removable dentures.
Chronic bleeding gums may indicate serious health conditions such as:
- Periodontitis (a type of advanced gum disease)
- Leukemia (Blood cancer)
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Lack of clotting cells (platelets)
Learn more: Things to Know about Tooth Abscess
Causes of bleeding gum
Every time your gum bleeds, consider these possible causes:
No matter how thorough you are with brushing and flossing, it’s hard to get rid of all the food pieces linger inside your mouth. Over time, plaque builds up, resulting in tartar, eventually leading to gum inflammation and bleeding when you brush too hard.
This is a severe case of gum infection, resulting in damages to the soft tissue and enamel. This leads to frequent bleeding although you are gentle with your gum. Most of the time, periodontitis is the consequence of poor oral hygiene.
Gum bleeding or swelling may be a warning sign of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, your mouth is vulnerable to bacterial infection, putting you at risk of gum disease. High levels of blood sugar make it harder for your body to heal, thus, making gum disease more severe.
Hormonal changes during menstruation have a huge impact on oral health. Those with hormonal changes during menstruation are at risk of developing gum inflammation or periodontitis, resulting in bleeding gum.
Gum bleeding may be a sign of leukemia, a type of cancer. Usually, platelets work to stop bleeding. If you have leukemia, you have much fewer platelets than needed. This will make forming a blood clot to stop bleeding much more difficult when any body part, including the gums, is injured.
If your gums bleed while you are brushing and the bleeding doesn’t stop on its own, you may suffer gum irritation or decreased platelets. In this case, the body doesn’t have enough platelets to form a blood clot. This may cause your blood to overflow to your body parts, including the gums.
Von Willebrand disease or Hemophilia
Bleeding of the gums or any other body parts may indicate Von Willebrand disease or hemophilia. In patients with these conditions, the blood isn’t able to clot properly, making your gums bleed much more easily.
Medications with side effects on dental health
Certain medications such as anticonvulsants, blood pressure drugs, etc. may cause abnormal swelling of the gums, resulting in gum inflammation and bleeding.
If you frequently experience excessive stress and anxiety, your immune system will suffer as well, reducing its ability to prevent bleeding gums. When your gums get weakened, they’re bound to bleed.
Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C contributes to the growth and repair of tissues. It helps speed up wound healing and keep your teeth and bones strong and healthy. If your body doesn’t get enough vitamin C, you may feel weak and irritated. Over time, you may experience gum swelling and bleeding.
Although this is quite rare, a severe vitamin C deficiency may result in scurvy, a disease related to poor nutrition. This condition may cause weakness, anemia, and bleeding under the skin. Bleeding gums are a typical sign of scurvy.
Vitamin K deficiency
Similar to vitamin C, insufficient intake of vitamin K may also cause bleeding gums. Vitamin K helps the blood clot properly and keeps the bones healthy. If you don’t get enough vitamin K from your diet or if your body has difficulty metabolizing vitamin K, you may get bleeding problems such as gum bleeding.
Underlying health conditions
If the reasons above don’t apply in your case, it’s likely that you have an underlying health condition. Bleeding gum is the first sign of blood sugar and insulin metabolism disorders. Other conditions such as cancer or diseases of the liver and kidneys, to name a few, are causes of hemorrhage or hemophilia, leading to bleeding gums.
Learn more: What You Need to Know About Gum Disease
How to deal with bleeding gums?
Once you have pinned down what causes your bleeding, you may make use of 1 in 10 following ways to manage bleeding gums:
1. Practice good oral hygiene
If your bleeding is caused by poor oral hygiene, you can solve this problem by getting rid of the plaque surrounding your teeth and gums. It’s best to use both a toothbrush and floss. These tools will get to every single gap between your teeth and remove food particles. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may weaken your gums, resulting in bleeding. Therefore, practicing good oral hygiene is particularly important for pregnant women.
2. Rinse with a hydrogen peroxide solution
Hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic that can be used as a mouth rinse to remove plaque, stop bleeding and improve gum health. You should rinse your mouth with this solution right after brushing your teeth.
3. Quit smoking
Besides the risk of lung cancer, smoking is also linked to gum diseases. Research shows that smoking is the cause of bleeding gum and worsens existing bleeding. This is because smoking wreaks havoc on the immune system, making the body vulnerable to bacteria in the plaque. As a result, your gums become prone to bleeding.
4. Fight off stress
Several studies have established an association between periodontitis and stress. Findings suggest that stress has a negative impact on the immune system, significantly reducing the ability to fight off a gum infection. Thus, the first step to treating bleeding gum is to relieve stress.
5. Get more vitamin C
A diet with an insufficient intake of vitamin C will make periodontitis much harder to treat. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that helps strengthen the links between tissues and protect gum membranes. It’s recommended that every adult get 65–90 mg of vitamin C daily. Vitamin C is abundant in oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, etc.
6. Increase vitamin K intake
An increase in vitamin K intake is also beneficial for the treatment of bleeding gum. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that helps with blood clotting. A deficiency of this nutrient will make you prone to gum bleeding. Foods high in vitamin K include spinach, kale, and mustard. You need to supply your body with 90–120 µg of vitamin K every day.
7. Use cold compress
If your bleeding is caused by an injury to the gum tissues, the best way to stop bleeding is by applying cold compress right onto the site of bleeding. This will reduce swelling and limit blood loss. You should wrap ice cubes in a cloth, then apply the compress for 20 minutes. Repeat this several times per day.
8. Cut down on carbohydrates
Studies have found that a decrease in carbohydrate intake contributes to the improvement of gum health and prevents gum bleeding. This is because carbohydrates and sugary foods give plaque an opportunity to build upon your gums, making you vulnerable to gum inflammation and bleeding.
9. Drink green tea
Daily consumption of green tea is helpful for the treatment of periodontitis and stopping hemorrhage. Green tea contains catechin, a natural antioxidant that works to reduce the body’s anti-inflammatory reaction to oral bacteria. The more green tea you drink, the better your oral health you get. The daily recommended amount of green tea is 3–4 cups.
10. Rinse with saltwater
Since bacteria and oral inflammation are the major causes of gum diseases, frequently rinsing your mouth with salt water will help fight gum diseases as it fights bacteria, and stops bleeding. Put half a teaspoon of salt in 200ml of warm water to make a salt solution and rinse your mouth with this solution for a few seconds. Do this several times every day.
When to seek medical help?
If all of the above fail to help after 7–10 days, visit your dentist. He or she will clean your teeth, remove the plaque, and suggest the best treatment plan.