Have you ever noticed that your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth? Whether it happens on a daily basis or only occasionally, it is a cause for concern. Often, people will think that their gums are bleeding because they brushed or flossed too hard. While it is possible to injure your gums if you floss incorrectly, the most common reason for bleeding gums is inflammation. Let’s have a closer look at gum inflammation, its causes, and the negative effects it has on the body.
Gum inflammation is another name for gingivitis. Gum inflammation is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed. This is usually caused by an accumulation of bacteria, plaque, and tartar on your teeth. To prevent or treat gingivitis, you have to mechanically disrupt the bacteria in your mouth with daily brushing and flossing. This lightens the bacterial load so that your body’s immune system can manage the bad bacteria. If you aren’t keeping your mouth clean with good oral hygiene, the bacterial load becomes too much, and an immune reaction (inflammation) is activated. While inflammation is important for healing, it is bad for your overall health when it is chronic.
While the primary cause of gum inflammation is bacteria and the need to improve oral hygiene, there are health conditions that can lower your resistance to the bacteria and make you more susceptible to inflammation:
The increased hormones during pregnancy can make you more likely to develop gingivitis. Your body may have an exaggerated response to the bacterial plaque in your mouth, causing your gums to become swollen, red and bleed easily. Having excellent oral hygiene will help to prevent this condition.
There is a link between uncontrolled diabetes and gum inflammation. If your blood sugars are not well controlled, you are more likely to have gum inflammation. This also works the opposite way; if you have gum inflammation, it can make it more difficult to control your blood sugars.
Stress can lower your body’s resistance to bacteria and viruses, making you more likely to get sick and more likely to develop gum inflammation. Managing stress will help to keep your immune system running as it should.
A diet lacking in vitamins can slow healing and put you at risk of poor oral health. Make sure to get enough vitamin C from fruits and vegetables.
Why you should care about gums that bleed
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. This condition affects not only the gums but also the supporting bone that holds your teeth in place. Without the bone support, teeth can become loose and need to be extracted. While this is worrying on its own, gum disease can affect more than just your oral health. It is known that the bacteria in your mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout your body causing other health problems. The connection between our oral health and overall health is known as the oral-systemic link. Studies have found there are links between uncontrolled gum disease and heart disease, stroke, dementia, complications with diabetes and pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, and even some types of cancers.
If you or anyone in your family has any of the above health conditions, it will be especially important for you to maintain excellent oral health. Good oral hygiene habits and regular professional dental cleanings will help to keep your mouth healthy. If you are concerned about bleeding gums, call us today!