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Posted on: April 20, 2021
Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
The Importance of Periodontal Health
Do you want to preserve a healthy, beautiful smile? Then, you should also make your gum health a top priority. Ensuring the health of your gums is important for preventing gum disease. When you have healthy gums, you are also more likely to ensure a healthy smile for life and support your overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly half of all adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Keep reading to learn everything you can about the causes of gum disease, its symptoms, and how you can prevent it from ruining your beautiful smile.
What Is the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Both periodontitis and gingivitis are types of gum disease. The primary difference between the two is that gingivitis can be successfully reversed with early treatment, but periodontitis can only be treated and managed to prevent further damage to your gum tissues and supporting bones.
Dentists use the term gingivitis to describe inflammation of the gums caused by a build-up of bacteria in your mouth. If you have gingivitis, it’s common to experience bright red gums that bleed easily when brushed or flossed. At this point in the gum disease progression, it can be reversed by maintaining a good oral health regimen at home and seeing your dentist for cleanings and exams.
Periodontitis occurs as gingivitis progresses, and it’s much more severe in comparison to gingivitis. Chronic inflammation causes your gums to recede, or pull away from your teeth. This creates pockets between your teeth and gums where bacteria can build up. As the bones and soft tissues that support your teeth become irreversibly damaged, tooth loss can result if you don’t receive treatment from a dentist. If you notice increased tooth sensitivity or experience pain while chewing, you might have periodontitis, and should visit with your dentist as soon as possible.
What Are the Main Causes of Gum Disease?
Poor oral hygiene is a leading cause of gum disease and bleeding gums. If you don’t brush and floss each day, a sticky film called plaque accumulates on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria, and if plaque isn’t removed while it’s still soft, it hardens into a thick material called tartar. If plaque and tartar spread below the gum line, they produce toxins that irritate and inflame gum tissue, promoting the development of gum disease.
Poor oral hygiene isn’t the only cause of gum disease, and there are several lifestyle and risk factors that can contribute to its development. These include:
- Genetics: Having a family history of periodontal disease can increase your risk of developing this dental problem.
- Medical conditions: Diseases and medical conditions that compromise the immune system and negatively affect the body’s immune response, such as diabetes, cancer, AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis, can worsen the state of your gums.
- Hormonal changes: Some research suggests that the hormonal changes associated with puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of developing periodontal disease.
- Smoking: Smoking or using tobacco products can affect the health of your gums, making it difficult for gum tissue to repair itself and increasing your risk of gum disease.
- Poor diet: Consuming a healthy diet supports a strong immune system and encourages a healthy mouth. If you don’t get enough vitamin C (among others), it can affect how your gum tissue heals and may cause bleeding gums. Calcium is also essential for strong, healthy teeth.
- High stress: Some research suggests that high levels of stress make it more difficult for your body to ward off infections, including gum disease.
- Prescription medications: Many prescription medications cause dry mouth, which can increase your risk for gum disease. Saliva protects your mouth by helping to wash away plaque and bacteria.
- Crooked teeth: Misaligned teeth increase your risk for developing gum disease because teeth that are crooked or overlap create space in your mouth where plaque and bacteria can accumulate. If your teeth are misaligned, be sure to carefully brush and floss these areas to fully remove plaque and food debris.
How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?
Many people have gum disease and aren’t aware they have it. In many cases, the symptoms of gum disease aren’t always obvious until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. When symptoms do appear, they can range in severity depending on the stage of the disease. Take careful note of these signs of gum disease and talk to your dentist right away if you suspect gum disease:
- Tender, red, or swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily while brushing and flossing
- A persistent bad taste in your mouth
- Chronic bad breath
- Shifting or loose teeth
- A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite down
- Gums that are starting to recede and pull away from the teeth
- A change in the way your dentures fit
Please contact our office to make an appointment if you have any of these symptoms of gum disease. With early treatment, it’s possible to reverse gum disease before it progresses to an advanced stage.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
You don’t have to accept gum disease as a part of your life. You can follow these tips to prevent the development of periodontal disease and keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime:
- Brush and floss daily: Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are some of the easiest things you can do to improve the health of your mouth. Brushing and flossing help eliminate plaque and bacteria. Try to brush for at least two minutes each time, paying special attention to the gum line and other hard-to-reach areas.
- Rinse with mouthwash: Using mouthwash can remove food particles that you might miss when brushing and flossing.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet rich in nutrients helps your body fight bacteria, including those that cause periodontal disease. Try to avoid sugar and starch as much as possible since these types of foods can increase plaque.
- See your dentist: Professional dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth and gum line before they can cause gum disease. Your dentist will also carefully examine the health of your teeth and gums during your appointment.