"Why do I have bleeding gums when I brush my teeth?" 😱
So you've been brushing regularly - every day, twice a day and every now and then, you'll get some sensitive, bleeding gums. There could be many different reasons why that is, so let's address some of the potential causes. And as always, you should see a dentist if you're worried about something. And, well, to be perfectly honest, you should see a dentist even if you're not worried about something - on fairly regular intervals for cleaning and check ups! But we digress. So, here's our list of things that can make your gums bleed.
Certain medications, (like some blood thinners) can contribute to bleeding gums. If you're concerned about the side effects of your medicine, speak to your medical doctor to see if you have an option to change prescriptions. Never stop taking medicine or change anything until you've spoken to a medical professional.
Underlying Medical Condition
While some medicines can cause bleeding gums, so too can some medical conditions. Double check with your family doctor to see whether your health conditions predispose you to bleeding gums. Since every person is different, they should be guided one-on-one to see what steps they can take to reduce symptoms.
Changes in your hormone levels can make your gums more sensitive - for example some women experience Pregnancy Gingivitis (YES, there was a reason for why we chose a pregnancy photo!) - because blood flow is increased to the gums. Once they've delivered the baby, their hormones settle and gingivitis goes away.
During an active flair up of gingivitis, make the time for an extra cleaning and check up. Keeping the mouth clean as your body undergoes changes can help reduce the inflammation so that you can return back to normal quicker. Allowing for a check-up also ensures that there's nothing more serious on your plate than gum inflammation. Just having that peace of mind is worth it.
Brushing too Aggressively
There is such thing as brushing too hard as well! Especially if you're working with a hard-bristled toothbrush, you can injure the gums and cause bleeding. Our advice in this case is to switch to soft bristles and to use less pressure. Using effective and appropriate brushing techniques will also help, so don't be afraid to pair your next Routine Cleaning Appointment with an Oral Hygiene Instruction Appointment.
Also, remember to change toothbrushes every 3 months (and anytime you get sick). When your bristles are worn and bent out of shape, you tend to brush harder, which can also hurt your gums.
If you've heard this term in toothpaste commercials and never knew what it meant, it's the medical term to mean gum inflammation. Gingivitis can happen when oral hygiene is sub-par and plaque build-up is present - and it's the first stage of gum disease. If someone brushes their teeth regularly but neglect the gums (or neglects the mouth entirely and doesn't brush!), the gums will start to turn bright reddish in colour (compared to a healthy pink shade). It may be sensitive to touch (e.g. with the toothbrush) and it might bleed.
Fortunately, if it's a mild case, the effects can be reversed. Unfortunately, many people, when met with sore, sensitive gums, tend to stop brushing that area altogether (The logic is to 'allow the tissues to heal'). We're here to tell you that the only way out of this situation is through - so you actually have to suck it up, bear with the discomfort and brush the gum tissue as well as floss - gently but thoroughly, you have to keep the area clean. In essence, you're making sure to remove the plaque buildup that's causing the inflammation which is making your gums inflamed and sensitive. Yes, in the beginning, you might bleed a fair bit, but stick with it, toughen up your gums and the inflammation should go away.
If your gums are inflamed, it's also a valid reason to come in for more frequent professional hygiene appointments. Our tools allow our team of professionals to deep clean your entire mouth, so the inflammation should resolve in a quicker amount of time.
**Please remember, we do say "brush gently and thoroughly" - this does NOT mean using excessive force!!**
If you can link your bleeding, sensitive gums to when you started wearing braces - traditional brackets and wires or switching to a new set of clear aligner trays, or when you started wearing your dentures or other dental appliances, there are a couple of possibilities:
i) Because you're wearing a new appliance, it could mean that cleaning it is more difficult (e.g. cleaning between the wires and your teeth). When this is the case, it's that whole plaque-buildup situation again and you need to up the ante and improve your oral hygiene - stat. You may also consider coming in for more frequent routine cleaning appointments. And if it's a removable appliance, follow proper care guidelines to keep them clean.
ii) It could also mean an ill-fitting appliance.
If you've got wires poking into your oral tissues, come in to get them adjusted if you have on traditional brackets and wires (or a wire retainer).
If your clear plastic aligner trays (or retainer trays) come down a little low and dig into the gums, you can have them adjusted by the dentist. This could go either way though - so, for example, it could mean you've been neglecting your oral care and your gums become swollen. If they swell, then the trays may dig into the gums - but in normal circumstances when the gum isn't swollen, then the trays fit fine. So, the dentist may tell you they can adjust the tray (if it really doesn't fit properly) - but they can also tell you to improve your oral hygiene (if the tray fits, but you're just not brushing and flossing effectively enough.
Improper Brushing/Flossing Technique
We've already covered 'brushing too hard' - but you can also damage the gums (and cause bleeding) if you're scrubbing in a long, side-to-side motion (rather than an up-and-down motion - that traces from where your gums meets the cheek and in the direction towards the edges of your teeth).
Careful when flossing your teeth as well. You're looking to go gently underneath the gum line, trace the tooth with the floss and guide food particles from out of these nooks and crannies. You are not trying to flick them out because going too quickly and aggressively can jam the floss into the gums and cause bleeding.
If you're new to flossing, it might also bleed in the beginning when you do it - it could be due to improper technique (see above) but it could also be because your gums aren't used to it. Keep pushing yourself to floss daily and the bleeding should resolve itself if it's done properly).
As mentioned earlier, an Oral Hygiene Instruction Appointment is well worth it to learn how to brush and floss.
If the above tips do not help and your gums continue to bleed, book yourself in for an examination with our team of dentists. By having a look, they'd be able to address any factors not listed above as well as give you personalized advice to help your situation.
Call our office today at (416) 226-6688.