Why Bleeding Gums Aren’t “Normal”
According to an American Dental Association survey, more than a third of Americans believe that seeing blood in their sink after brushing and flossing is normal.
It is not normal! Our dental profession has failed to educate the public on the following two things: that bleeding gums are an indicator that your oral health is threatened AND that there are real consequences to your mouth and the rest of your body if this bleeding isn’t addressed.
Nowhere else in the body do we normally bleeding as something that just happens (I’m excluding one obvious exception here, ladies). If you bled overtime you went to the bathroom, you would be worried, and rightfully so! If your nose bled every time you touched it or blew your nose, it likewise would trigger concern. You would want to know why, right? Bleeding is a sign of a problem. We all know that blood is supposed to be INSIDE our body. So why do we think it is perfectly normal to bleed from our mouth and not also think it could be an issue?
The real truth is that bleeding gums is one of the first signs of gum disease, which is the #1 cause of people losing their teeth. It’s also a very common issue, with 70% of our adult population having some form of the disease. But just because something is common, doesn’t make it okay or normal. If you want to keep your teeth, it is a real issue that you should address. It’s also very important if you care about your overall body health as well.
So why does bleeding occur?
The bleeding is an inflammatory response that begins when plaque builds up on your teeth and along your gumline. When not removed, it becomes a place for bad bacteria to hang around. The bacteria and their toxic byproducts trigger our immune system to create inflammation to try and combat them. This swelling weakens the integrity of the gum cells and the blood vessels in the gums, which can lead to the bleeding.
If the inflammation is there long enough, it can cause destruction of the gums and bone around that area, which then weakens the support of the tooth. If this process goes untreated for long enough, the tooth can be lost by no longer having enough structural support. (find image depicting advanced bone loss)
Now, How Do You Eliminate Bleeding in Your Mouth
- Have a Dentist Evaluate - You need to know why the bleeding is happening and where. This will involve x-rays and a thorough gum evaluation to find out the cause/issue. They will then recommend any treatments to address it that you are unable to do yourself.
- Brush and Floss Regularly - We aren’t just saying it for no reason :) This is the best way for you at home to remove the plaque from around the teeth.
- Waterpik - A waterpik is a great supplemental tool to flush out plaque and debris from around the teeth as well as to remove bacterial byproducts from in the pockets of the gums.
- Eat a High Fiber Diet - Fiber, in actual food form, is not only great for your digestion and nutritional needs, but also your mouth. Chewing fibrous foods will help clean your teeth and remove plaque and stains naturally. Consider foods like nuts, seeds, raw celery, and apples as examples.
- Drink Plenty of Water - The water will help keep your mouth moist as well as help to remove some of the plaque/debris that accumulates on the teeth throughout the day.
- Quit Smoking (if you smoke) Dental Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking (eastpeoriadental.com)