Realizing that your gums are bleeding can be alarming. Gums that bleed regularly can cause bad breath and are sometimes indicative of a more serious problem. There are several common causes of bleeding gums, and some of them are treatable. If you’re worried about bleeding gums, you should make an appointment with your dentist.

Gingivitis (Gum Disease)

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing can build up on your teeth and at the gum line. Gingivitis can make your gums swollen and tender, and leads to bleeding gums. The early stages of gingivitis respond well to good oral hygiene habits and regular checkups. Gingivitis is often a painless condition that can be easily managed or treated in its early stages, before it progresses to periodontitis.

Some women experience swollen gums and bleeding while brushing during pregnancy. This is called pregnancy gingivitis. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can alter the body’s response to bacteria that cause gum disease for the duration of the pregnancy. About half of pregnant women will have pregnancy gingivitis by their second trimester. It’s even more important to brush and floss regularly if you’re pregnant and if your gums start bleeding, you should schedule a check up with your dentist.

Medications

Some medications, like blood thinners, can increase your risk of bleeding gums. If you are taking a blood thinner and have issues with bleeding gums, you can try talking to your doctor and dentist about what precautions you can take to avoid issues.

New Flossing Routine

Changing your flossing routine can lead to bleeding gums. If you aren’t flossing regularly or have increased your flossing routine, this can aggravate gums until they get used to the change. Changing your toothbrush can also cause bleeding gums.

Hormones

Some women report they are more likely to experience bleeding gums before or during their period. This is due to increased progesterone.

What Can Be Done?

If you realize your gums are bleeding and you haven’t had a dental checkup recently, you might want to schedule an appointment with your oral healthcare professional. Deep cleanings are occasionally required to keep gingivitis from turning into periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss.

Regardless, bleeding gums can be an indication that you need to step up your oral hygiene routine. Brush twice a day or after every meal. Floss once per day. Use a mouthwash designed to eliminate the bacteria that causes gingivitis and use it every day. Maintain a healthy diet that boosts your immune system to help it fight off bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. See your dentist as recommended and follow their recommendations. If you find you have gingivitis, see what steps you can take to treat it to avoid problems in the future.

Only a dentist can determine if your bleeding gums are being caused by your dental routine, gingivitis, or in rare cases, a more serious condition such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or cancer. Maintaining oral health isn’t just about your teeth. What goes on in your mouth can affect and be affected by other disease processes in the rest of your body.