When people come to the dentist, they strive to be cavity free. Often, they forget there is another aspect to dental health. Gum health is just as important as being cavity free. Bleeding gums are never normal, even when having your teeth professionally cleaned. Imagine if your scalp bled when you brushed your hair. It’s the same concept with teeth; bleeding gums are a warning sign that your dental health is at risk.

So what causes bleeding gums?  Most simply put, bacteria. Bacteria live in the dental plaque that accumulates on our teeth daily forming a biofilm. Without proper brushing at least twice a day and daily flossing, the bacteria can flourish and grow under the gumline. This bacterial infection of the gums causes inflammation, soreness and bleeding when brushing and flossing.

To prevent bleeding gums and gum disease, oral hygiene must be thorough with brushing 2 minutes twice a day preferably with an electric Sonicare toothbrush. Brushing will eliminate bacteria around the gumline, but only flossing can remove the bacteria that live in between the teeth. Flossing is recommended daily as well as regular 6 month check-up appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist. For those with more advanced gum disease (periodontal disease), more frequent appointments may be necessary: for example, every 3 or 4 months.  Other things that are helpful to alleviate bleeding gums are eating a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and saying no to tobacco products.

Remember, advanced gum disease or periodontal disease also leads to tooth loss, not just decay and cavities. So take care of your teeth and they will take care of you!

by Lauren Swartz, RDH