Bleeding Gums – Causes and Effects

What do bleeding gums mean

Bleeding gums are caused by inadequate plaque removal. Plaque contains germs which attack the healthy tissue around the teeth. If plaque build-up occurs, gums become inflamed. This may cause bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing. This is called gingivitis and is the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is usually a painless condition and bleeding gums may be the only symptom. Some other signs may include: swollen, red or tender gums; teeth that are loose; persistent bad breath or taste; and a change in the way your teeth fit when you bite. At this stage, gum disease can be treated and completely reversed. So it’s important not to ignore your bleeding gums.

Plaque Build Up and Periodontitis

Plaque that is not removed will eventually cause the gums to separate and recede from the teeth. Once gum recession occurs, pockets or gaps can form between the teeth and gums. Harmful bacteria and germs can get trapped inside these pockets, attacking the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Plaque will eventually harden into tartar. At this point, gingivitis has progressed into the more serious condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause tooth and bone loss. Other serious problems patients may experience include painful abscesses, drifting of the teeth which may interfere with chewing, and unsightly lengthening of the teeth with exposure of the roots. Periodontitis is also linked to more serious health concerns including an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease as well as an increased chance for complications during pregnancy.

Bleeding gums can affect your overall health

Periodontitis is also linked to more serious health concerns including an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease as well as an increased chance for complications during pregnancy. Even men’s sexual health can be affected by gum disease. Scientists believe that infections caused by pariodontal diseases can be responsible for the association between gum disease and these conditions. This is another good reason why you shouldn’t ignore bleeding gums!

Risk factors

Age: The incidence of gum disease increases with age. 50% of adults 30 years or older and 70% of adults over 65 have gum disease.

Stress: Stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases

Medications: Some prescription medications can increase your risk of gum disease such as anti-depressants, blood thinners, certain heart medications and oral contraceptives. Please ask your doctor or dentist if your medication can affect your gums.

Genetics: Sadly some of us are predisposed to get gum disease. If you think this applies to you, ask your dentist to perform a simple genetic test to determine your risk.

Other risk factors:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition
  • Grinding teeth
  • Smoking