Bleeding Gums - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Bleeding Gums


Healthy gums do not bleed, so if your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, it is an indicator of gum inflammation caused by excessive dirt and deposit known as plaque on your teeth(1 Trusted Source
For the patient. Keeping your gums healthy

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Bleeding gums, a prevalent oral condition, were observed by the Chinese around 2500 BC. They referred to the related diseases as 'Ya-Kon', denoting ailments affecting the soft tissues around the teeth(2 Trusted Source
The impact of oral health on the quality of life of nursing home residents

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Bleeding gums indicate a slowly progressing disease of the gums, which may progress further to involve the bone supporting the teeth and ultimately result in tooth loss. In addition to bleeding, the patient often has pain and bad breath.

The causes of bleeding gums vary from local conditions like inflammation of the gums and trauma, to conditions affecting the whole body like vitamin C or vitamin K deficiency, the use of blood thinning medications, or even leukemia(3 Trusted Source
The influence of cigarette smoking on gingival bleeding and serum concentrations of haptoglobin and alpha 1-antitrypsin

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The gums stop bleeding following treatment of the underlying condition. The patient is advised to maintain good oral hygiene. Local astringent solutions may provide some relief(4 Trusted Source
Periodontal diseases in the child and adolescent

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Causes of Bleeding Gums

Infection of the oral cavity, vitamin deficiency, underlying diseases, and improper dental hygiene are the main causes of bleeding gums.

  • Gingivitis - It refers to the inflammation of the gums. Poor oral hygiene, inadequate brushing, and failure to rinse the mouth after meals result in the teeth being covered by bacteria, tartar, and plaque. This may result in swollen gums, bright red gums, or bleeding of gums when brushed or flossed.
  • Periodontitis – Also known as ‘gum disease’, it is a serious gum infection that causes damage to the soft tissues surrounding the tooth. Gingivitis, when not treated, progresses to periodontitis.
  • Trauma - Trauma to the gums can occur by brushing the teeth too hard, picking the tooth with sharp objects or by eating sharp food items like fish bone.
  • Improper technique/aggressive dental flossing
Causes of Bleeding Gums
  • Pregnancy - Hormonal changes in pregnancy predispose to bleeding gums known as pregnancy gingivitis.
  • Use of Anti-Coagulant Medications - Bleeding gums can be seen in patients who are on blood thinning medicines as a side effect.
  • Scurvy - Scurvy is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C that results in bleeding gums.
  • Vitamin K Deficiency - Vitamin K is necessary for the proper clotting of blood. Deficiency of vitamin K can result in gum bleeding.
  • Hot Food and Chemicals - Hot food and chemicals may cause bleeding as a result of burns in the gums. For example, some people follow the practice of placing pain relieving tablets on the gum adjacent to the painful tooth, which invariably causes burns.
  • Leukemia - Leukemia which is a type of cancer, may lead to increased bleeding in the gums and oral region.

Symptoms of Bleeding Gums

  • The gums may become soft, spongy, reddish, irritated,and swollen.
  • Bleeding is usually noticed while brushing the teeth, in saliva, while spitting,or at night.
  • Consumption of coarse food items may induce bleeding from the gums.
  • Bleeding gums may be associated with pain. The pain, if present, is usually dull in nature.
  • Bad breath.

Diagnosis of Bleeding Gums

  • Bleeding gums are usually diagnosed and treated by a dentist (periodontist).
  • Blood tests may sometimes be advised to determine problems with the blood clotting mechanism, if present or suspected.
  • X-ray of the teeth and jaw bones may be necessary to rule out infection of the bone.
Diagnosis of Bleeding Gums

Treatment of Bleeding Gums

It involves identifying and treating the underlying cause which may include one or more of the following:

  • Gum bleeding can be controlled by applying pressure with a gauze pad soaked in ice-water applied directly to the bleeding gums.
  • Local application of over-the-counter liquid solutions that contain astringents can help control the bleeding. However, long lasting results are obtained only by treating the cause.
  • Oral hygiene - If long standing inflammation is the cause of bleeding then removal of the source of bacteria will result in improvement of the condition. Proper maintenance of oral hygiene is of paramount importance.
  • Vitamin supplements - In case of vitamin deficiency, proper diet or vitamin supplements are recommended (as prescribed by the physician/dentist). Sore and bleeding gums can be aggravated by citrus fruits and juices, spicy food, alcohol, and tobacco. Vitamin C supplements are recommended when citrus fruits and juices cannot be consumed.
  • If dentures (artificial teeth) make gums bleed, wear them only during meals and seek your dentist’s help with realignment.
  • Brush teeth gently (with a soft-bristle toothbrush) after every meal and floss regularly.
  • Use a mouthwash prescribed by your dentist.

Home Remedies for Bleeding Gums

  • Increase your intake of vitamin C
  • Unripe papaya and guava are rich sources of vitamin C
  • Rubbing orange or lemon peel helps control the bleeding
  • Essential minerals in ripe bananas helps stop bleeding
  • Using a cold compress helps
  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Saltwater rinsing
  • Reducing stress

Latest Publications and Research on Bleeding Gums

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