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What Does it Mean When Your Gums Bleed?

What Does it Mean When Your Gums Bleed?

Do you think a little blood in the sink is no big deal? Think that you’re just brushing or flossing too hard? Think again. While bleeding gums is a disturbingly common sight, it isn’t normal.
So if it’s not a result of being overzealous with the floss, why do your gums bleed?
According to the American Dental association, if your gums bleed frequently during or in between cleanings and you aren’t on blood thinners, it is a sign that needs to be assessed by your dentist. Many things can cause bleeding gums. The most common, as you may already know, is gingivitis.

Gingivitis is a gum disease, or “”periodontal disease””, usually caused by a bacteria, that causes your gums to become reddened, inflamed, and swollen. Often, people don’t realize they have gingivitis because the symptoms are mild and don’t involve pain. This doesn’t mean the issue should be ignored, however, as it can lead to a much more serious problem called periodontitis. Not only can periodontitis mean the loss of some or all of your teeth, it can also cause damage beyond the mouth. If the infection is left unchecked, it can move into the jaw bones, the blood, and even into the heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Here’s why: poor oral hygiene leads to excessive plaque and bacterial growth in the mouth, leading to tooth and gum decay, and then to infection. The best way to prevent gingivitis, therefore, is by brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and flossing daily. Regular dental checkups are also important in ensuring that your oral health and hygiene are up to par.

If you have a chronic disease such as diabetes, or arthritis, or if you smoke, you are likely at a higher risk for gum disease. Certain medications such as antidepressants and prescriptions for heart disease can lead to dry mouth, which also puts you at a higher risk for gingivitis.

While gingivitis is by far the most common cause of bleeding gums, it is by no means the only one. Bleeding gums can sometimes be a sign that something more serious is happening inside your body. For example thrombocytopenia, or low platelet count, can be a cause. When blood is thin and the body is unable to produce certain clotting factors as effectively, this often results in unusual bruising and bleeding in different areas of the body. For the same reason, you may experience bleeding gums if you are taking blood thinners. Diseases like liver cirrhosis, leukemia, different factor deficiencies, and pernicious anemia may also affect the ability of the body’s blood to clot normally and cause the gums to bleed.

So what does it mean when your gums bleed? It can mean something simple like poor dental hygiene or something more frightening like leukemia. So if you see that tell-tale blood in the sink every time you brush or floss, be proactive and talk to your dentist, or doctor and get it checked. No dental bleeding is good dental bleeding.

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