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Bleeding Gums In Houston, TX: Causes and Treatments

Periodontal bleeding can be a major issue for your smile, depending on the cause.

By Jennifer
Photography by Pete

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If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why are my gums bleeding for no reason?” you’re not alone. From poor oral hygiene and diets to pregnancy and drug use, gingival bleeding is a widespread problem that our dentists and hygienists see here at Nu Dentistry. But are bleeding gums dangerous? It depends on the reason. Some reasons are relatively harmless, like brushing a little too hard with a new toothbrush. Others can lead to long-lasting and disastrous problems that can plague your smile for a lifetime.

Identifying the exact cause can be essential for helping us plan the right bleeding gums treatment for you. Common bleeding gums causes include:

  • Gingivitis and gum disease
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Your dental hygiene routine
  • Medications like blood thinners
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy
  • Poor diet

Gum Disease

If you experience bleeding gums when brushing or flossing your teeth, particularly if you haven’t done them in a while, you likely have gum disease. Nearly half of all Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum, or periodontal, disease. That number only increases as we grow older, with 70% of all adults 65 years and older developing it. As the leading cause of adult tooth loss, bleeding gums from periodontal disease shouldn’t be ignored or left untreated.

Gum disease can ravage your smile as plaque and bacteria build up on the parts of the teeth below the gums. Worsening gum disease causes your gums to recede and the bones supporting your teeth deteriorate until your teeth can no longer be secured in place.

Gum bleeding isn’t the only sign of developing gingivitis. Other gum disease symptoms include:

  • Red or purple gums
  • Swollen, tender or painful gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Receding gum line or teeth that look longer
  • Halitosis (persistent bad breath)
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Loose and shifting teeth
  • Change in bite

What Is the Main Cause of Gingivitis?

The most common reason our patients develop gingivitis and gum disease is poor oral hygiene. When you don’t brush and floss your teeth as your dentists recommend, plaque and bacteria accumulate on your teeth and below your gums. This buildup irritates the gums, causing them to become inflamed and infected. Other factors that can play a role include diabetes, tobacco use, hormone changes in women, dry mouth, genetics, and certain medications and illnesses.

Can You Fix Periodontal Disease?

When your gum disease is in its earliest stage, gingivitis can be fully cured and reversed with time, care, and attention. At this point, plaque and bacteria have only begun to irritate but not damage your gums. With a trip to our Houston dental office for a cleaning and some at-home TLC, including brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, you can see your gingivitis go away in 14 days. You may notice that your gums still bleed during the first few days, but this will clear up as you remove all of the buildup beneath your gums.

Once gingivitis becomes periodontitis, your teeth’s supporting gums and bones become irreversibly attacked. At this point, your gum disease can be managed, not cured, with professional treatment at your dentist’s office. At Nu Dentistry, standard methods we use include deep cleanings, pocket reduction surgery, and gum and tissue grafts. However, if left untreated for too long, your teeth may become loose enough that they fall out!

Chewing Tobacco

Chewing tobacco, or “dip,” doesn’t just cause health problems like oral cancer—it can also lead your gums to recede and bleed. Bleeding gums from dip is especially common when patients brushing or flossing their teeth because, similar to gum disease, tobacco and nicotine irritate the gums. Unlike with gum disease, however, these toxic chemicals don’t just fester under your gums. They are absorbed directly into the gums from where they sit plastered against them. Chewing tobacco also makes it incredibly easy for your gums to develop gingivitis and become diseased.

Here are some other ways frequently using dip can impact your smile:

  • Gum recession
  • Bone loss around your teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Quickly stain your teeth
  • Damage tooth enamel
  • Lead to cavities and gum disease
  • Increase the risk for oral cancer

Medications

Medications like blood thinners make it more difficult for your blood to clot and easier for your gums to bleed. Just as you would your doctor, you should always inform your dentist of any new medications you start using. This allows us to better understand and account for any complications that might arise. We can also give you recommendations to minimize or prevent these complications, including gingival bleeding.

Pregnancy

When a woman is pregnant, her body experiences frequent hormonal changes that upset its natural balance. As your hormones change, so can your body’s response to oral bacteria. For some women, their smiles become more susceptible to bacteria and plaque, often leading to “pregnancy gingivitis.”

Bleeding gums during pregnancy usually clears up by the end of month 8. Still, it’s crucial for expecting mothers to take good care of their teeth and gums. Be sure to maintain a close relationship with your dentist during this time. Please come in to see us if you notice any new developments with your teeth or gums. The damage gingivitis and periodontitis do to your mouth can be a nightmare. The earlier you come in at the first signs of trouble, the quicker and easier it will be to take care of your smile.

Poor Diet

The foods you eat can have a huge and lasting impact on your body, and your gums are no exception. Foods high in vitamins C and K, keep your gums healthy and your smile in top form. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy, which isn’t just a problem for pirates like you might think. Along with bleeding gums, scurvy can lead to anemia, chronic exhaustion, gingivitis, jaundice, and even death. Vitamin K allows your blood to clot. While not as catastrophic, a diet lacking vitamin K can make it easy for your gums to bleed and difficult for them to stop once they start.

To help your gums stay fit and prevent bleeding, our Houston dentists recommend you try eating these foods:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Olive oil
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes

How Do You Fix Bleeding Gums?

Practice excellent oral hygiene. One of the most common reasons for bleeding gums is poor oral hygiene. Brushing twice and flossing once daily is an amazingly effective gingivitis treatment, removing all plaque and bacteria buildup beneath the gums in as little as two weeks. We may also recommend that you see your Houston dentist for a professional dental cleaning, which should be done regularly at least once every six months. For later stages of periodontal disease, a deep cleaning may be required to clear your teeth down to the roots of hardened plaque and bacteria.

Use a soft or electric toothbrush. While you’re working to better your gums, especially when they’re inflamed from periodontal disease, the type of toothbrush you use can make all the difference. If you’ve just bought a new toothbrush with stiff bristles, brushing too aggressively can irritate your gums and cause them to bleed further. By switching to a soft bristle brush, you can be gentle with your smile even as you work to make it healthier.

An electric toothbrush is programmed to move and rotate to your teeth’s best advantage. These toothbrushes can be especially effective along your gum line, making it easier to clean your teeth better than a manual one. They can also come with built-in timers to ensure you always brush your teeth the full two minutes it takes to give each of your teeth the attention they need. Whichever toothbrush you choose, be sure to replace yours every three or four months. You may need to do this sooner if you are a more enthusiastic brusher because your brush’s bristles may quickly become frayed.

Quit using chewing tobacco. Just as using dip can cause problems like gum bleeding, gum recession, periodontal disease, and cancer, so can going cold turkey reduce its effects. While you might not fully recover from the damage, you may find your inflammation and gum disease steadily improving within two to six weeks of quitting.

Listen to your dentist. If your Nu Dentistry dentist has any specific recommendations or instructions for how to stop bleeding gums, their suggestions should not be ignored. This can mean easy, at-home treatments like rinsing with a saltwater solution or dentist-recommended mouthwash or adding more fruits and green vegetables to your diet. However, we may request that you receive professional treatment under our care. These procedures can include periodontal disease treatments like pocket reduction surgery, gum and bone grafts, or dental extractions in worst-case scenarios.

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