Bleeding gums is often considered normal because it happens so often, however it is a sign of disease and underlying issues. Brisbane Holistic Dentist Dr Rachel Hall of Evolve Kenmore shares why gums bleed and how to make it stop.
In most cases, you can treat minor gum bleeding at home. Good oral hygiene and natural remedies can treat and prevent gum bleeding.
Gum bleeding is common and is typically not serious or life-threatening, but it should be taken seriously if it is happening frequently as it is a sign of gum disease and can be a warning of systemic illness or underlying health issues.
You may notice some blood after brushing your teeth or flossing, which happens because your gums are unhealthy because of plaque or tartar buildup. These substances allow bacteria to grow along the gum line which produces inflammation and disease. Good oral hygiene can prevent sensitivity and bleeding by removing the bacteria and helping the immune system to heal the diseased gum tissue.
Common causes of sensitive or bleeding gums include:
Try the following methods to stop gums from bleeding and to prevent the bleeding from coming back again.
Practicing good oral hygiene can help treat bleeding gums.
As with bleeding anywhere else on the body, you can help stop the bleeding by immediately holding a clean, damp gauze against the affected area.
Gently press the gauze in place until the blood has stopped flowing.
People with a weakened immune system or another medical condition may find that their gums take a long time to stop bleeding. Speak to a dentist about the best way to stop the blood flow.
Hold a cool compress, a small ice pack, or an ice cube against swollen, bleeding gums to help soothe them.
Ice packs are especially helpful to soothe minor mouth injuries that cause swelling, such as cuts and scrapes. They can also help reduce pain and swelling caused by gingivitis.
Use ice for 10 minutes at a time and take 10-minute breaks. If the bleeding does not stop, call the dentist or a doctor.
Antibacterial mouthwashes can both treat and prevent bleeding gums. They kill bacteria and reduce inflammation to soothe sore, swollen, and bleeding gums.
Mouthwash can also treat and prevent gingivitis, which is a common cause of bleeding gums.
Common active ingredients in mouthwashes include:
Keep mouthwash on hand to treat bleeding gums when they occur. Make sure you choose an alcohol free mouthwash to prevent drying out or irritating the mouth.
Rinsing your mouth with salt water can help reduce bacteria and speed up healing times – make an oral salt rinse by adding half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water.
Swish the salt rinse around the mouth to cleanse the area and then spit the liquid out. Repeat this several times a day, or according to instructions from your dentist.
Turmeric has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Applying a turmeric paste to the gums may improve the symptoms of gingivitis and bleeding gums.
However, there is currently no reliable scientific evidence that states turmeric has any effect on gum disease or bleeding gums.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, was compared in a study with the effects of chlorhexidine in oral hygiene. The researchers found similar anti-inflammatory effects in people who used these gels for 10 minutes a day twice a day.
Turmeric is yellow, but it should not stain your teeth as long as you rinse well after using it.
The best toothbrush to care for your gums is one labeled as extra soft or sensitive. Firm or medium toothbrushes are too rough on the gums and is like using sandpaper to clean your teeth.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles for 2 minutes twice a day – both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective. Make sure you are cleaning along the gumline as well as in the teeth.
Replace toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months, or sooner if the bristles look frayed.
Starting a new flossing habit can cause bleeding at first. The gums may not be used to the stimulation. However, after a few days of consistent flossing, the bleeding should stop.
Regular flossing improves overall gum health and should reduce gum bleeding over time.
Smoking is a major cause of gum disease.
Smoking harms the body’s immune system, meaning the body is less able to fight off the bacteria that naturally stick to the gums.
Once the gums are damaged, smoking makes it harder for the body to heal its tissues.
Quitting smoking benefits the whole body, and greatly increases the health of a person’s mouth and gums. People often notice improvements in their oral health quickly after stopping smoking.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic medicine practice. It involves swishing a specific oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes, then spitting it out. Proponents claim that it can whiten teeth and improve oral health.
Though some people may find that oil pulling helps there is a lack of scientific evidence into its effectiveness. Experts suggest that oil pulling cannot replace regular brushing and flossing.
The theory is that oil pulling draws out the bacteria that live in the mouth while spitting the oil out removes the bacteria from the mouth. Some people use oils with antibacterial properties, such as coconut oil.
Eating starchy, processed foods too frequently may cause gingivitis and bleeding gums.
Starchy foods can stick to teeth and gums and break down into sugar. This action can lead to inflammation of the gums, bleeding, and an increase in decay.
Starchy, processed foods include refined bread, cakes, cookies, and potato chips.
Crunchy vegetables, such as celery and carrots, can help keep teeth clean between meals.
Their crunchy quality can help remove food residue from the teeth. Also, they contain low amounts of sugar and carbs, so they do not promote tooth decay or gum problems.
Kale and leafy greens are rich in essential nutrients.
Leafy greens, such as kale, lettuce, and spinach, are excellent sources of various nutrients, including Vitamin K.
A vitamin K deficiency can affect the amount of time it takes for blood to clot, so people low in vitamin K may notice more bleeding than usual.
People who are prone to blood clots should ask a doctor about how much vitamin K they need in their diet.
The best way to avoid bleeding gums is to adopt a healthful lifestyle that prevents the diseases that cause bleeding gums.
You can often avoid and prevent bleeding gums and other gum problems by:
You should check with their dentist if you notice changes in your gums, teeth, or mouth.
Pain, redness, or bleeding of the gums should not happen every day. If the problem arises frequently or does not go away with good oral hygiene practices, a dentist can check for early-stage gum disease and other issues.
Vitamin deficiencies such as vitamin C or K, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to bleeding gums. People should see their doctor or dentist if the bleeding does not go away after trying to treat this symptom at home.
Regular dental visits can stop minor, early-stage gum disease from becoming more serious. Untreated gum disease can eventually lead to infection and tooth loss. A dentist can also look after the overall health of a person’s mouth and spot bigger problems, such as the early stages of mouth cancer.
In most minor cases, you can treat bleeding gums effectively using home remedies. It is also possible to prevent bleeding gums in the future by practicing good oral hygiene and addressing any underlying causes. See a dentist or doctor for prolonged or excessive bleeding.
A dentist can treat gum disease, especially if caught in the early stages.
While occasional bleeding of the gums is not usually an emergency, a person should see a dentist if it continues.
If you notice bleeding from your gums, or gums that are red, sore or swollen this is a sign you have gum disease or an underlying health issue and you should visit your dentist for assessment and treatment.
Oral health is connected to full-body health in myriad ways. In fact, conditions ranging from obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even dementia are all directly connected to poor oral health.
Rachel is the founder and principal dentist at Evolve Dental Healing with over 30 years experience, practising holistically since 2001. Not your typical dentist, Rachel is a passionate opinion leader, challenging convention to empower people to make better dental and health choices, helping thousands to have healthy natural smiles. A respected writer and presenter on holistic dentistry, health and wellness it is Rachel’s mission to revolutionise the way people look at their dental health.