Be Well Dental

Why do my gums bleed when I clean my teeth?

January 16, 2022
Posted By: Be Well Dental - Dr Bao Nguyen

The most common condition that causes our gums to bleed is called Gingivitis. Most adults would have experienced gum bleeding at some point in their life when flossing or brushing. Although it is a common occurrence and is usually painless, consistent bleeding of the gums should never be ignored because it is a warning sign for a much more serious dental problem. 

The gums usually bleed because it is inflamed, and the inflammation is caused by the body’s response to the plaque that build-up on teeth along the gum line. Plaque is a layer of bacteria that forms very quickly on the surfaces of the teeth. If plaque is not brushed off, it hardens into tartar (calculus) and will continue to irritate the gums. The gums can become chronically inflamed as the immune system responds to the irritation. If not treated, the condition can lead to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontal disease, which results in the loss of bone and ligaments that hold the teeth in place. Most people don’t experience any pain associated with this, and the first sign of periodontal disease is usually detected by the dentist due to the loss of bone on dental x-rays, or if the person notices loose teeth in their mouth.

Another thing to keep in mind is that bleeding gum usually indicates chronic inflammation. This means that if left untreated, the body will have high levels of inflammatory mediators floating in our blood system, which increases the risks of developing conditions such as diabetes, high disease and dementia amongst others.

How do I prevent gum disease?

  1. Brush twice a day with a soft toothbrush along the gum lines, and floss once daily.
  2. Visit your dentist every 6-months for checkup and cleaning. It’s like getting your car serviced regularly, the best thing that could come out of the service is maintenance with an oil change and you’ll have peace of mind that your car is safe to drive. Going to the dentist is like getting a health check up for your mouth and a cleaning service! Your teeth cannot be replaced like a car can, so it’s definitely worth investing in them
  3. Other healthy habits that can support healthy teeth and gums are:
    • Good diet of whole food, which contains less sugar and simple carbohydrates.
    • Relax! The American Academy of Periodontology reports that stress can reduce our immune functionality, which makes it more difficult for us to fight infections. It also has been reported that stress can induce inflammation in the gums.
    • Quit smoking as it increases our risk of developing gum disease and often results in more advanced form if not treated.