Do you often see pink or red in the sink after brushing your teeth? Are your gums frequently sore, swollen, or discolored? Sometimes excessive gum bleeding is a sign of a serious problem (like gum disease). In many cases, however, it could also be an indication that you’re simply being too rough with your mouth when brushing or flossing.
It can be hard to determine the cause entirely on your own. Below, we discuss several things you may be doing to irritate your gums and cause bleeding. See if you can cancel out these habits first, before speaking to your dentist or periodontist about the problem.
7 Causes of Excessive Gum Bleeding
- Overly vigorous tooth brushing. Many people think that brushing your teeth harder will help to clean them better and keep them free of plaque. But doing so can actually end up damaging your gums or even the enamel on your teeth. Whether you’re using a manual or electric toothbrush, make sure to choose one with soft bristles, and always use gentle, circular, massaging motions—not forceful back-and-forth motions—to clean your teeth and gums.
- Rough or careless flossing. Similar to brushing your teeth too hard, flossing can also damage the delicate tissue of your gums if you are not gentle. Instead of forcing the floss between your teeth and scraping it up and down, carefully slide it between your teeth and then make sure to floss with slow, gentle motions, following the curve of each tooth.
- Not practicing proper oral hygiene. You should always brush your teeth at least twice a day, normally after meals, and floss at least once. When you don’t brush your teeth, including the hard-to-reach molars all the way in the back, the bacteria in your mouth will form plaque on your teeth. If you don’t remove the plaque within 24 hours, it can soon become tartar—that hard, yellowish substance that has to be scraped off your teeth by a dentist. Too much plaque or tartar can cause an inflammation in your gums, which means they’ll be red, swollen, and bleeding (all indicators of gum disease).
- Gum disease. More than 75% of Americans over age 35 get gum disease. Most people who suffer from this condition have the less severe form known as gingivitis, but between 5-15% end up with the more severe form called periodontitis. If you catch gingivitis early on, it can be reversed and completely healed with proper oral hygiene. But left untreated, it can worsen drastically and lead to tooth loss. If you think you might have gum disease, make an appointment with your dentist immediately.
- Canker sores. Also known as mouth ulcers, these painful sores can develop on your gums and anywhere else in your mouth. They often have red edges and a whitish center. Most canker sores disappear on their own within 2 weeks (practicing good oral hygiene helps prevent them), but if yours are particularly large, painful, or last more than 3 weeks, make an appointment with your dentist.
- Using tobacco products. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and all other tobacco products can cause extreme damage to your gums and teeth, and can even lead to oral cancers. Smoking in particular can cause painful sores, discomfort, and excessive gum bleeding.
- Certain medications. The American Dental Association lists specific blood thinning medications as one of the possible causes of excessive gum bleeding. If you are on any sort of medication that decreases blood clotting, your gums may bleed much more easily. Always let your dentist know if you are on a blood thinning medication so that they can adapt your treatment to accommodate your needs.
While excessively bleeding gums can indicate gum disease, sometimes you may just need to make a small adjustment to your usual dental hygiene habits. If you are experiencing any sort of discomfort, discoloration, or bleeding in your gums, however, the best thing to do is consult your dentist as soon as possible.
We specialize in providing experienced, cutting edge dental care with warm and attentive service. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and learn more about how we treat excessively bleeding gums.