We are open - safety is our top priority!
Posted on: April 20, 2021
Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
Why Are Healthy Gums Important?
Having a healthy smile means a lot more than keeping your teeth white. Your gums also play an essential role in your oral health. Your gum tissue serves as the foundation for your teeth. When healthy, they hold your teeth in place and prevent bacterial infections.
What Is the Main Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gingivitis occurs due to gum tissue inflammation, and it’s caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth. Although your gums will appear red and swollen, gum recession doesn’t occur until gingivitis advances to periodontitis. Gingivitis can be reversed if you brush and floss diligently and receive professional cleanings and exams.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can progress to periodontitis. At this stage, pockets form between your teeth and gums, which can trap harmful bacteria. As bacteria spreads below your gum line, it can damage the bones and soft tissues that hold your teeth together.
What Are the Risk Factors for Gum Disease?
For many people, gingivitis begins when plaque builds up on the teeth. Plaque is composed of mostly bacteria and is nearly colorless. It develops on your teeth when the sugars and starches in the foods you eat interact with the bacteria that exist in your mouth. Although flossing once a day and brushing twice a day helps remove plaque, it accumulates quickly.
If plaque remains on your teeth for several days, it can harden under your gum line. This substance is called tartar, and it’s filled with bacteria and toxins that irritate and inflame your gum tissue. Only your dental hygienist can remove tartar; it can’t be removed through brushing and flossing. When plaque and tartar extend below the gum line, you can develop an infection. At this point, you might start noticing red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss.
In addition to plaque, bacteria, and tartar, there are other factors that can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Let’s examine some of the most common risk factors:
- Prescription medications: Some prescription drugs can affect your oral health by reducing saliva production. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, such as antidepressants, seizure medications, heart medications, and high blood pressure medications. Since saliva helps wash away bacteria and plaque, having a dry mouth can create an environment in which plaque and bacteria thrive.
- Stress: High stress levels can affect your entire body, including your gum tissue. During periods of high stress, it’s difficult for your body to fight off infection. This can make you vulnerable to developing gum disease.
- Changes in hormone levels: When your body experiences changes in hormone levels, such as those that occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, it’s possible for your gum tissue to become more sensitive. This can raise your risk of developing periodontal disease.
- Genetic predisposition: If you are a member of a family with a genetic predisposition to gum disease, it’s essential to see your dentist regularly and maintain a diligent regimen of brushing and flossing.
- Improper oral hygiene: Failing to brush and floss regularly creates an environment that’s ideal for the build-up of bacteria, plaque, and tartar. In addition, if you don’t see your dentist regularly, your mouth is more susceptible to bacteria and toxins found in plaque and tartar.
- Illnesses: Many medical problems can accelerate the progression of periodontal disease, especially those that affect your body’s ability to prevent infection. HIV, cancer, and diabetes are just a few conditions that can make you more vulnerable to infection, including gum disease.
- Using tobacco products: Smoking and using tobacco products can affect your body in many ways. These bad habits can lead to an increase in toxins that contribute to gum disease and can also make it more difficult for gum tissue to properly heal.
Signs You Have Gum Disease
The early stages of gum disease are often painless and without noticeable symptoms. This can make it difficult to know if you have an early form of gum disease. Usually, most patients don’t start to notice symptoms until gum disease has progressed to periodontitis, which is much more difficult to treat. If you have any of these symptoms, it may indicate that you have gum disease:
- Persistent bad breath
- Chronic bad taste in your mouth, even after brushing
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding gums when you brush and floss
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Loose or teeth that have started to pull away from the gums
- A change in the way your dentures fit
- Gums that are beginning to recede and pull away from the teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums
Catching and treating gum disease early can help reverse the condition and prevent it from advancing to periodontitis. If you have these symptoms, set up an appointment at our office right away.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Gum Disease
Adding these simple habits into your routine can help you maintain the health of your teeth and gums, helping you reduce your risk of gum disease in the process.
Brush and Floss Daily
Maintain a twice-daily schedule of brushing your teeth, and make sure to floss daily. Try to brush for at least two minutes each time to ensure that you properly remove plaque and bacteria.
Swish With Mouthwash
Rinsing with mouthwash offers many benefits that can prevent periodontal disease, including removing food particles from your teeth and reducing the speed at which plaque and tartar accumulate on your teeth.
Get Regular Dental Checkups
Professional cleanings are the only way to remove hardened tartar from your teeth and gum line, and it can also remove any plaque you might have missed while brushing your teeth. Regular dental checkups also give your dentist the opportunity to examine the health of your teeth and gums, which can aid in the early detection of gum disease.
Improve Your Diet
Try to limit your intake of foods that are high in sugar and starch, as these types of foods can encourage the development of plaque. Instead, choose nutrient-rich foods, especially those containing calcium and vitamins A and C.