Swollen & Bleeding Gums
Swollen, bleeding gums can be uncomfortable and unattractive.
These are also hallmark signs of periodontal disease, which can severely impact your oral health. Your general health could suffer too.
What symptoms should I look out for?
Signs Aren’t Always So Apparent
Bleeding during Flossing
Many people will only experience bleeding gums when they floss or brush their teeth. Pay special attention during your hygiene routine.
Change in Texture
Healthy gum tissue is firm, smooth, and lies flat next to the teeth. Swollen tissue may have a rolled margin along the teeth or appear visibly inflamed.
Change in Color
Gum tissue should be evenly pigmented and light pink or coral. Dark pink, red, purple or even blue gums could indicate something is wrong.
Oral Hygiene is Part of the Equation But There Are Other Risk Factors
A buildup of bacterial plaque, the catalyst for gum disease, is most often the cause of swollen and bleeding gums. Oral infections, allergic reactions, and mouth ulcers, or canker sores, can increase your risk of swelling. Certain types of vitamin deficiencies and hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, can also impact your gum health.
What else causes these symptoms?
A Closer Look at the Causes of Swollen, Bleeding Gums
The bacteria that cause gum disease release toxic substances. This causes the soft tissue to become infected and increasingly inflamed.
Injury to the Soft Tissue
Brushing too aggressively or using a hard-bristled brush can irritate the delicate tissue. Burns from hot food and drinks can also injure the gums.
Pregnancy and Birth Control
Puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation, as well as oral birth control, cause a rise in certain hormones. This leads to increased blood flow to the gums, which can make them swell and bleed more easily.
“Bleeding gums are never normal, not even when you have your teeth professionally cleaned.” Lisa Marie Samaha, DDS, founder and director of the Perio Arts Institute
So How Can I Prevent These Issues?
Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss!
If you tend to hit the sheets without flossing, break that habit. In fact, some dentists recommend brushing and flossing twice-a-day at least.
Refine Your Arsenal
Are your toothbrush bristles soft and pliable? If not, swap it out. Better yet, invest in an electric toothbrush which is gentler on the gums.
Rule Out Meds and Other Causes
Speak with your doctor about medications or medical conditions that could be causing bleeding or swollen gums. They might also test you for vitamin deficiencies, infections, and more.
See a Dentist When Symptoms Do Not Resolve on Their Own
In some cases, symptoms will clear up on their own. This is often true for injuries, such as a burn to the mouth. If symptoms remain, your dentist can review the frequency and severity of your concerns and recommend an appropriate treatment. Your doctor may also perform an oral exam and measure periodontal pockets if you suffer from gum disease.
What comes next?
Professional and At-Home Care Are Your Best Defense
Treatment for Gum Disease
First, visit a dentist to determine whether you require a deep cleaning. Also known as scaling and root planing, this step is often sufficient if a regular professional cleaning cannot restore your gum health.
If your gums are infected, the doctor might also apply topical antibiotics. These can kill harmful bacteria and allow the soft tissue to heal.
Gum disease often requires ongoing treatment. Some people may require more frequent cleanings to control the growth of bacteria. Typically, these patients will need to visit a dentist or periodontist every three months.