Gums may bleed for several different reasons. Trauma to the face or mouth may cause bleeding gums as well as lips and cheeks. Medical conditions or various medications may make the gums more inflamed and susceptible to bleeding. An infection may make the gums bleed in a specific area. But most commonly, gums will be more prone to bleeding due to gum inflammation called gingivitis.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissues. This occurs from the build-up of oral bacteria called plaque that accumulates on the teeth and gums. The body will then send more blood into the gums (which contains white blood cells) to fight against the bacteria. Unfortunately, unless the plaque is manually removed with a toothbrush and floss, the gums will stay swollen bleed easier, usually when brushing and flossing. Signs/ symptoms of gingivitis are red and puffy gums, gums that are tender to the touch and gums that bleed easier. You might notice gingivitis if you see blood when brushing and flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis.
Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is left untreated; it is an inflammation of the bone and ligament that attaches the teeth and gums to the bone. Plaque that accumulates on the teeth and is not removed will calcify onto the tooth surfaces and turn into a solid structure called calculus or “tartar.” As this happens, pockets between the teeth and gums start to form, and the attachment of the teeth in the bone becomes compromised. Signs and symptoms of periodontitis are sore gums, bad breath, bleeding gums and tooth mobility.
It is essential to treat gingivitis when it is first noticed so that it doesn’t progress. Brushing twice per day and flossing once a day is an essential role in maintaining good oral health. Using a mouth rinse also helps reduce the number of oral bacteria. Visiting your dentist and dental hygienist for frequent cleanings is vital, as areas that are difficult to reach in your mouth can be cleaned.