While we might think that our mouths are robust structures, as we crunch away at peanuts and perhaps pork crackling too, our gums and the skin that covers them are actually delicate, and deserve looking after as much as do our teeth. The job of the spongy pink structures that are our gums is twofold – they are there to both support our teeth where they protrude into our mouths, and also to seal our teeth off so that food debris cannot penetrate and infection cannot develop below our gum lines. If our gums bleed then this could be a sign of an underlying problem. If we do not attend to this now we are risk of some costly dental procedures, or perhaps if it’s too late, we may eventually lose our teeth and have to get an implant.
What Makes Our Gums Bleed?
The most common biological causes of bleeding gums are bacterial, fungal or viral infection that develop in our gums. Conditions like these produce acids and other toxins that can away at the soft flesh and cause inflammation. This causes our gums to bleed, and to shrink away, reducing support for our teeth. When we are young, incorrect brushing is most likely to cause bleeding gums. As we grow older, the bleeding is more likely to indicate an underlying problem. Other, non-biological causes may include:
• Jabbing at our gums with a toothbrush, cutting ourselves when flossing or inserting dentures, biting down on hard objects, or using aggressive chemicals such as tooth whiteners, mouth fresheners and oral antiseptics
• Poor oral hygiene that allows tartar and dental plaque to build up
• Ignoring mouth sores
• Blood thinning medications, or hormonal changes during pregnancy
• Burning our mouths on hot food
Frequent gum bleeding indicates a need to seek medical advice. Do not put this off. The cause behind the symptom must be identified, and treated, before your teeth are put at risk.
How to Prevent Bleeding Gums:
Prevention, not cure is normally the clue to avoiding bleeding gums.
• Be gentle when you brush or floss your teeth. Use a soft bristle toothbrush, or a gentle electric toothbrush head.
• Stay away from chips, sour food and drinks, and unnecessary oral medication that could harm your gums. Think before you put sharp foods like bread crusts into your mouth. Always rinse after eating, especially when you have been enjoying crumbly foods like biscuits and other snacks.
• Do not stress your gums – avoid chewing gum, betel or tough dried meat and give up smoking.
• When you eat, chew your food carefully and thoroughly. You will obtain the secondary advantage of better digestion too. Brush your teeth gently as soon as possible after every meal.
• Gargle and rinse with warm, moderately salty water before you go to bed – this is Mother Nature’s oral hygiene secret.
How to Treat Bleeding Gums:
Consideration for your gums and the power of your saliva will generally solve the problem in a matter of hours. While this is happening, avoid brushing your teeth and eat only soft foods. Rinse every hour with warm, lightly salted water. If the problem persists for longer than a day, call your dentist for a consultation.
Bleeding gums are usually a signal that you are not looking after them. It is normally easy to prevent the problem – brush and floss regularly and gently, and think before you chew.