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Posted on: April 20, 2021
Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
Why Is the Health of Your Gums Important?
How healthy are your gums? Do they appear pink in color and fit securely to your teeth? Your gums are designed to form a tight seal around your teeth. This creates a barrier that prevents bacteria from entering and supports the bones and other soft tissues.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
The term “periodontal disease” refers to a group of conditions that impacts the health of your gums and can result in tooth loss if left untreated. Also called gum disease, periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults older than 30.
Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease, and it’s caused by inflammation due to the build-up of plaque at the gum line. Gingivitis doesn’t cause bone loss and is easily preventable and reversible by brushing and flossing each day and receiving professional cleanings and exams twice a year.
If allowed to progress, gingivitis leads to periodontitis, a serious condition that irreversibly damaged the supporting tissues and bones that hold your teeth in place. A pocket below the gum line may form over time as your gums separate from your teeth, and this can trap food and bacteria. To prevent further damage, you’ll need proper dental treatment.
Common Risk Factors of Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is caused by uncontrolled bacterial growth from plaque and the toxins it produces. While this is the primary cause, there are also numerous risk factors that contribute to the development of gum disease. Here’s a list of the common risk factors associated with gum disease:
- Crooked or crowded teeth: If your teeth are crooked or crowded, they can be difficult to properly clean, which can increase the build-up of plaque and bacteria.
- Genetics: Having a family history of gum disease increases your risk of also developing the disease.
- Poor oral hygiene: If you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, this bad habit can lead to gingivitis. Daily brushing and flossing remove harmful plaque before it can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by your dental hygienist. Make sure to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once each day to prevent the development of plaque and bacteria.
- Prescription medications: If you take a prescription medication, you might experience dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth is defined as a lack of sufficient saliva, which is essential for washing away harmful plaque and bacteria from your teeth. Pain medications, high blood pressure medication, antidepressants, heart medications, and diuretics are a few examples of medications that can cause dry mouth.
- Hormones: Changes in hormone levels, like those that occur during menopause, pregnancy, or puberty, can increase gum inflammation and make your gums more sensitive. To reduce this risk, take extra care of your oral health, especially during these times.
- Tobacco use: If you regularly chew tobacco or smoke, you’re causing damage to your sensitive gum tissue and introducing toxins into your mouth. This can affect how your body fights infection, which can encourage the development of gum disease.
- Illnesses: HIV, cancer, and diabetes are examples of medical conditions that can affect your immune system, making you vulnerable to infections.
- Stress: Stress can affect how your body prevents infection, and this can raise your risk of an infection caused by the bacteria in plaque. Maintain good brushing and flossing habits during times of high stress to reduce your risk.
- Poor diet: Proper nutrition gives your immune system a boost and promotes a healthy mouth. A diet low in vitamin C can be harmful to your gum tissue and may cause bleeding gums.
How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?
You might be surprised to learn that it’s possible to have periodontal disease without noticing any symptoms. Since gum disease can progress silently, you may have an early stage of the disease and remain completely unaware. This is one reason why seeing your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings is very important. When assessing the health of your teeth and gums, answer the following questions?
- Do your gums bleed when you’re brushing or flossing?
- Are your gums, red, puffy, or tender?
- Do you notice persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth?
- Have you noticed a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite?
- Are your gums starting to pull away from your teeth?
- If you wear dentures, have you noticed any change in the way your dentures fit?
- Are your teeth loose or separating?
If you say “yes” to any of these questions, we encourage you to make an appointment at our office for a checkup and examination.
How to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy and Avoid Gum Disease
Fortunately, gum disease is avoidable and completely preventable. If you take good care of your oral health, you’ll never have to experience gum disease. Follow these tips to reduce your risk:
- Practice good oral hygiene at home: Maintaining a consistent dental care routine at home is essential for the health of your teeth and gums. Try to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. Brushing and flossing every day remove harmful bacteria and plaque, which can irritate your gums and lead to periodontal disease.
- See your dentist: Professional teeth cleanings remove plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth and gum line before they can cause gum disease. Your dentist will also carefully examine the health of your teeth and gums during your appointment.
- Choose healthy foods: Reduce your consumption of foods high in sugar and starch. These types of foods promote plaque development and acid production, which weakens tooth enamel. Choose vitamin-rich foods, especially those high in calcium and vitamins A and C.
- Rinse with mouthwash: After brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth with mouthwash. Mouthwash can reach places in your mouth, even hard-to-reach areas.