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Bleeding gums are a warning sign – ignore it and you risk losing your teeth

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Aakash Molpariya
Aakash started in Nov 2018 as a writer at Revyuh.com. Since joining, as writer, he is mainly responsible for Software, Science, programming, system administration and the Technology ecosystem, but due to his versatility he is used for everything possible. He writes about topics ranging from AI to hardware to games, stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. He is a trained IT systems engineer and has studied computer science. By the way, he is enthusiastic about his own small projects in game development, hardware-handicraft, digital art, gaming and music. Email: aakash (at) revyuh (dot) com

Is it just a small crack caused by too vigorous brushing or perhaps a risky periodontal disease? The causes of bleeding gums should be clarified. We asked experts what helps in acute cases and why bleeding gums are often a warning signal.

Bleeding gums are a warning sign. Because healthy gums don’t bleed. It’s light pink, firm, and a little wavy. Only if you brush your teeth too vigorously or have a hearty bite into very crusty bread can it bleed a little. 

Most of them get frightened, but the bleeding gums have disappeared immediately. Because the mucous membrane is enormously regenerative and tiny cracks heal quickly. Micro-injuries are the cause of these harmless bleeding gums.

Bleeding gums are usually caused by inflammation

Most of the time, however, bleeding gums are not harmless. It then bleeds because there is an inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. Poor oral hygiene and the resulting changes in the oral flora are to blame. 

Harmful bacteria predominate, multiply on the gumline and inflame it in the process. Other signs of gingivitis: The gums are swollen, red, and painful, and bad breath can occur.

Bleeding gums are often the first symptom of periodontal disease

“However, the bleeding gums can also be an indication of an incipient oral disease or a general illness,” explain experts. Above all, this can be a disease of the periodontium, the so-called periodontitis.

The entire periodontium becomes inflamed and can eventually go under. The inflammation attacks the jawbone and there is a risk of tooth loss. Such periodontitis has serious consequences not only locally, i.e. in the mouth: the bacteria can trigger inflammation in other organs, fuel existing diseases such as rheumatism, and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, as many studies have shown. Usually, one of the first symptoms of periodontal disease is bleeding gums.

Bleeding gums can also be caused by more serious conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes mellitus,
  • immunocompromising diseases or
  • Tumor diseases.

Bleeding gums and hormones

Bleeding gums are also a common problem during pregnancy. Many pregnant women notice that their gums are very sensitive and prone to bleeding. 

“Hormonal changes such as pregnancy or cycle fluctuations can also have an impact on the gingiva,” say doctors. The female sex hormones change the gum tissue, it is supplied with more blood, the connective tissue looser. The gums are now particularly sensitive.

Risk factors for bleeding gums

“For a disease of the oral mucosa, nicotine consumption through smoking or e-smoking is considered a risk factor,” explain dentists. 

Other components that can promote bleeding gums:

  • Poorly fitted dentures can injure the gums and cause pressure sores, which in turn bleed
  • Grinding teeth
  • some drugs, such as blood thinners, some high blood pressure drugs, drugs that suppress the immune system
  • Malnutrition and eating disorders with vitamin deficiencies.

In particular, vitamin C and A levels that are too low have a negative effect on the mucous membrane in the mouth. 

“Vitamin C deficiency triggers scurvy, the classic disease of seafarers who could not eat fresh food,” says Angelika Brandl-Riedel – Chairwoman of the German Dental Association. Bleeding gums are one of the symptoms of an insufficient supply of vitamin C, others are inflammation in the mouth and ultimately tooth loss. 

Vitamin A deficiency, on the other hand, makes the oral mucosa more susceptible to bacteria, which in turn triggers inflammation and thus bleeding, explains the dentist.

Big risk: gingivitis turns into periodontitis

Failure to intervene in time risks the inflammation of the gums worsening and spreading to deeper tissues. The gingivitis turns into periodontitis. 

“Every second adult between 35 and 44 years old suffers from a disease of the gums, every tenth from a severe form of periodontitis,” says the dentist, citing the current figures.

Reverse gingivitis and prevent periodontal disease

However, the development of incipient gingivitis with bleeding gums to periodontitis can be prevented. 

To do this, you should eliminate risk factors as much as possible, so:

  • Wear a bite guard when grinding your teeth,
  • Have dentures and braces properly adjusted,
  • Consider changing medication in consultation with your doctor,
  • Quit smoking,
  • healthy, vitamin-rich diet instead of malnutrition,
  • a diet that is as sugar-free as possible.

For unfavorable bacteria in the oral flora, sugar is, so to speak, concentrated feed. The germs process sugar, but also other carbohydrates, into acid, and the oral flora is sensitively disturbed. Not only the teeth themselves, but also the gums suffer as a result. 

By the way, the sugar content of an apple spritzer daily is enough for the oral flora to change permanently, researchers from Freiburg found.

However, risk factor number 1 remains poor oral hygiene. Perfect dental care, whereby the spaces between the teeth should also be cleaned daily, can not only prevent gum inflammation from turning into periodontitis, but also stop gingivitis.

If you have bleeding gums, brush your teeth anyway

Keyword dental care, many people only restrict their teeth brushing when it comes to bleeding gums. They hope that this will protect the gums. 

“The lack of care will further worsen the condition of the gums, as more plaque will now adhere to the teeth and even more harmful bacteria can accumulate there,” warns the expert.

Even with bleeding gums, it is imperative to maintain perfect oral hygiene – with a toothbrush, dental floss and interdental brush, then use an antiseptic mouthwash or oral gel.

Stop bleeding gums – what you can do yourself

Good oral hygiene is the most important part so that the gums stop bleeding. Douches with herbal tea

  • Chamomile,
  • Sage or
  • myrrh

can supplement oral hygiene in the case of bleeding gums. Caution: The tea should not be hot, but lukewarm. Heat also irritates the already sensitive gums.

Bleeding gums harmless or warning signs? When to see a doctor

“If the bleeding gums persist for several days even with very good oral care with toothbrushes, interdental brushes and dental floss, the dentist should be consulted for clarification,” recommends the doctor. 

The specialist will briefly take a medical history, thoroughly examine teeth and mouth and take x-rays. The x-ray shows the condition of the roots and jawbones. These diagnostic tools can be used to prove whether gingivitis or periodontitis has already developed.

Treatment of inflammation of the gums and periodontal disease

If the finding is gingivitis, the dentist will recommend professional teeth cleaning. The dental hygienist or the dental prophylaxis assistant removes soft and hard plaque with special instruments/devices, cleans the interdental spaces meticulously, polishes the teeth, and supplies them with fluorine. 

During these work steps and afterward, it provides information about perfect dental care at home, which is precisely tailored to the individual circumstances of the patient. If these recommendations are then reliably implemented, the gingivitis usually heals without any problems.

If periodontitis is already present, the dentist cleans the gum pockets and smoothes the tooth root surfaces (basic therapy). If necessary, antibiotics help the healing process. In advanced cases, various surgical techniques are used that not only clean, but also support tissue regeneration.

Preventing bleeding gums: optimal oral hygiene like a professional

Once the gums have regenerated, all measures for good oral hygiene should of course continue to be applied so that the warning sign of bleeding gums due to a tooth/mouth disease no longer occurs.

It is not only important for everyone who has already had gingivitis or periodontitis, but also for everyone who wants to avoid bleeding gums and inflammation so that their teeth stay healthy into old age.

By the way, there is a simple formula for the prevention of tooth decay and classic periodontitis, because these diseases only arise “when the factors of time – substrate – bacteria act on the tooth or the periodontium,” says the expert. 

“If only one of the triggering factors is omitted, there is no disease,” is the good news. In this context, substrate means sugar as a nutrient for harmful bacteria.

Conclusion: You protect yourself from the most common tooth and gum problems if either:

1. There are hardly any harmful bacteria = thorough brushing of your teeth, avoiding plaque formation, or

2. The bacteria do not receive any food = remove or eat sugary foods

3. The substrate is only available for a very short time = rinse your mouth with water after eating and snacking, wait almost an hour and brush your teeth carefully – it is best not to constantly eat and drink sweets in between. These long gaps are also important so that the oral flora does not continually become unbalanced.

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