Why do my Gums Bleed?

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If you are experiencing bleeding gums or notice bleeding after you brush, then you probably have a form of gum disease. If left untreated gum disease can cause a range of problems such as bad breath, pain and, in the more serious cases; tooth loss. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease is an infection occurring in the tissues and the surrounding bone structure of your teeth. There are millions of bacteria living in your mouth and these make up the sticky, colourless film known as plaque. As these bacteria feed and multiply, acid and other toxins are created as a by product, if they are not regularly cleaned off, they can go on to irritate, inflame or cause damage to the gums.

There are a range of factors which can put you at an increased risk of developing gum disease. There are a strong genetic factor, so if your parents have experienced gum disease, then try to take extra care of your teeth. If you have an especially sugary or acidic diet, then this can often contribute to the formation of plaque. An unhealthy diet can also increase your susceptibility to infections in general. There is a higher prevalence of gum disease in women, and often the hormonal changes experienced during puberty may cause girls' gums to become more susceptible to irritation.

One of the most common causes of gum problems however is tobacco. Smoking not only leads to increased staining from brown nicotine deposits but can also contribute to gum disease. This includes 'smokeless' tobacco products such as chewing tobacco.

There are varying degrees of gum disease, with the mildest form being gingivitis. If you do not regularly clean the plaque from your teeth and gums, it may harden into calculus, which is much harder to remove by brushing alone. Calculus, also known as tartar can attack the gum tissue causing a severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. With this form of gum disease, your gums become weaker and allow bacteria to form, causing even more damage. If left unchecked this can even spread to the nearby bone structures and even cause tooth loss as well as bleeding.

Fortunately, there are a range of procedures your dentist can carry out to treat gum disease in all its stages. However, prevention is always better than the cure, so make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes and floss every time you brush. There are also a range of dental products on the market that can help combat the formation of plaque and calculus such as specialised mouthwashes.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »