After brushing my teeth one night, I looked in the sink and saw blood. I pulled back my lip and noticed that my gums were red and swollen. I thought I was just brushing too hard, but the problem kept going for weeks. I went to my dentist about it, and he told me that I have gingivitis.
What Causes Bleeding Gums?
My dentist told me that there are several things that can cause bleeding gums. Here’s what he shared with me:
Bleeding gums are primarily caused by plaque that contains bacteria. This plaque sits at the baseline of the gums and wreaks havoc on your oral health. As the plaque continues to sit on the gums, it can lead to mild gum disease referred to as gingivitis. Gingivitis is typically kept at bay by simply brushing and flossing more.
If gingivitis is left untreated, the plaque can actually harden into tartar. Once hardened, your gingivitis now progresses to a serious gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause your gums to bleed even more and extend into the jaw bone.
Other Possible Causes
Gingivitis and periodontitis are the primary reasons your gums may bleed. However, there are other serious causes as well. Health related causes include:
- Scurvy or vitamin K deficiency
- Hormonal changes
- Bleeding disorders or use of blood thinners
Non-health related causes:
Regardless of what you think may be causing your bleeding gums, it is best to speak with your dentist. He or she may be able to give you a more definitive answer. Leaving your gums untreated could lead to major health issues.
11 Methods on How to Stop Gums from Bleeding
Since I deal with bleeding gums, there are things that I do each day to help. My dentist gave me these recommendations so that I can stop seeing red in the sink. I’ve already noticed that my gums are healthier than they used to be.
Brush and Floss Multiple Times a Day
Brushing and flossing is the most obvious step to stop bleeding gums. Bleeding gums are caused by plaque build-up. This plaque contains bacteria and covers your teeth, leading to tooth and gum decay. Removing the plaque and bacteria many times a day will minimize the inflammation of your gums. It can also stop the bleeding.
Benefits of Brushing
Brushing your teeth helps to remove food particles and plaque. At minimum, you should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Your brushing should focus on the gum line and dental work (fillings, crowns, etc), as those can be hard to reach areas.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Flossing is also vital for proper oral hygiene and should be performed at least once a day. Flossing helps to remove food particles that may be stuck between your teeth. It can also reach spots you were unable to while brushing. Be sure to get in between each tooth with the floss, moving up and down, and gently scraping each side.
Rinse Out Your Mouth
Rinsing your mouth with salt water or hydrogen peroxide is easy and affordable. It has been known to cure many ailments, including bleeding gums. Performing these simple rinses can actually clean your mouth and cause the bacteria to dry up. These methods are quick, and employ simple ingredients common to most households.
Rinsing With Salt Water
When rinsing out your mouth, add half a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water. Rinse your mouth for several seconds and then spit the solution out. Repeat this until the cup of water is gone, up to three or four times a day.
Rinsing your mouth with salt water is safe for most people to perform. Yet, it is not always recommended for those with high blood pressure. If a solution is too salty, people with high blood pressure could end up with gums that are even more irritated. Employing a salt water solution should always be used with caution.
Rinsing with Hydrogen Peroxide
In addition to salt water, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide is extremely effective. Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide stops bleeding gums, promotes gum health, and removes plaque. It also has the added benefit of whitening your teeth.
Increase Your Intake of Vitamins C and K
Eating fruits and vegetables provides us with important nutrients, including vitamin C. Vitamin C supports your immune system and helps your body fight off gum infections. So, increasing certain fruits and vegetables in your diet can help you stop bleeding gums.
Foods that increase your vitamin C intake:
When your body does not receive enough vitamin C, it can lead to a condition known as Scurvy. Scurvy is a vitamin C deficiency. It can cause bleeding gums, regardless of how well you brush and floss your teeth.
Vitamin K Allows Blood Clotting
Your intake of vitamin K is also important to prevent bleeding gums. Vitamin K actually affects how your blood clots. When you have a deficiency of vitamin K, your gums will bleed easier. Foods that contain vitamin K include:
You may struggle with your intake of fruits and vegetables. If so, talk with your doctor about taking a vitamin C and vitamin K supplement. Adults should get 65-90 milligrams a day of vitamin C as this antioxidant helps to protect the gum’s lining. For vitamin K, adults should be getting anywhere from 90-120 milligrams daily.
Stop Smoking Cigarettes
Smoking is extremely dangerous to your health. Not only can it cause heart disease, lung cancer, and a stroke, but it is also bad for your oral health. Smoking can cause a variety of issues in your mouth, many of which lead to severe forms of gum disease. Being able to quit smoking may be the solution to prevent your gums from bleeding.
Did you know that smokers are 50% more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers? First, smoking inhibits your immune system. It makes it more difficult to fight off infection and disease in the mouth and gums. Smoking fills your mouth with toxins, leading to plaque, tartar, and tooth decay.
Breaking a Habit
Smoking is also known to infect the roots of your teeth. This causes severe sensitivity and again, inflammation. We all know smoking can lead to cancer in the lungs. Yet, many don’t realize that it can also lead to cancer of the mouth, throat, lips, and tongue.
Smoking is a tough habit to break. But, quitting smoking has endless benefits for your oral health and hygiene. Not only will your gums be able to heal and stop bleeding, but you will be improving the health of your entire body. Consult your doctor on the best method to help you stop smoking.
Find Time to Relax
It may seem odd, but taking care of your body, as a whole, can increase the health of your gums. We live in a world that is always on the go. We face constant demands, and 24-hour access to news and social media. Under these conditions, it can be challenging to find time to relax. Stress at this level could be causing your gums to bleed.
Your Body’s Response to Stress
When you are put through high levels of stress, your body responds with inflammation. This includes inflammation in your gums. Women, in particular, tend to face stress-related depression. Therefore, they are prone to higher levels of inflammation in their gums. Consistent stress leading to inflammation will result in bleeding gums. It may even lead to even greater gum issues.
Having a high level of stress can also weaken your immune system. When this occurs, your body is unable to fight off bacteria resulting from plaque build-up. This may lead to gum disease or, again, more severe oral issues.
Learn to Say “No”
If you feel stressed out, learning to say “no” or making time to relax may be key to preventing bleeding gums. Relaxation may be taking a few minutes to breathe and meditate. It could also be turning off your phone to spend time with friends and family. Make relaxing a priority as your oral health may depend on it.
Incorporate Dairy and Crunchy Foods
When we think of stopping bleeding gums, we typically think of cleaning our mouths. We think of removing food. However, increasing dairy and crunchy foods into your diet can actually clean and strengthen your teeth and gums.
Dairy Provides Calcium
Dairy doesn’t always get the best reputation when it comes to losing weight. However, when it comes to teeth and gum health, it is vital. Dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk contain calcium. Calcium strengthens your teeth and promotes a healthy mouth.
The Benefits of “Crunchy” Foods
Increasing the intake of “crunchy” foods into your diet can also benefit your teeth and gums. Crunchy foods may consist of fruits and vegetables such as carrots, celery, or apples. Chewing on these foods actually helps remove harmful plaque and bacteria.
Crunchy foods also help you incorporate the nutrients needed for optimal gum health. They tend to be low in sugar, which can promote plaque build-up. They are also fibrous, which helps to clean your teeth.
Increase Your Saliva
Chewing food, especially crunchy foods, increases your saliva. Saliva helps to wash away food particles, harmful acids, and plaque that may have been scraped off while chewing. We have known that crunchy fruits and vegetables improves the health our bodies. Now, we know that it can also improve the health of our mouths.
Limit Your Carbs and Drink Green Tea
When you have an increased production of plaque and bacteria, gum disease can result. You can combat this with regular brushing and flossing, but it is not always convenient to stop and do so. Limiting your carbohydrates and drinking green tea can promote an overall healthier mouth.
Carbs Contain Sugar
Carbohydrates are great for an energy boost. However, they can be harmful to your oral health and hygiene. Many carbohydrates are high in sugar. Sugar is damaging to your teeth and gums. It also promotes the growth of plaque and bacteria.
Green Tea Lowers Inflammation
Another easy way to stop bleeding gums is to drink green tea. Daily consuming green tea can stop bleeding gums and even reverse periodontal disease. It is able to do this because it contains an antioxidant called catechin. Catechin lowers your mouth’s inflammation response to bacteria.
The thought of drinking green tea for oral health may seem a little far-fetched. Yet, the benefits are actually backed by science. Researchers found that periodontal health has a direct correlation to green tea consumption. The more green tea you drink, the better your periodontal health. To see improvement, it is recommended you drink three to four cups daily.
Stop Sharing Food and Drinks
Did you know that bleeding gums and gum disease can actually be contagious? We often take steps to prevent illness from being spread around our homes and workplaces. We should also do this when experiencing bleeding gums or gum disease. One of the best preventative measures is to stop sharing with others.
To put any fears to rest, gum disease and bleeding gums cannot be spread through casual contact. You will not give your kids or significant other this oral health problem by holding their hand or giving a hug. You may run the risk, however, if you exchange saliva.
Saliva Transfers Gum Disease
You wouldn’t choose to share a drink or toothbrush with someone who is sick. Nor should you share with someone experiencing bleeding gums or gum disease. Saliva transferring from one person to another exchanges the bacteria that causes gum disease. You can even transfer plaque, again, potentially causing harm to the other person.
The best way to prevent this is by not sharing items such as drinks and toothbrushes. Find other solutions. Get another straw, drink from the other side of the cup, or buy another toothbrush. Most importantly, encourage those around you to maintain good oral hygiene.
Herbs and Essential Oils
People are often skeptical on the usefulness of herbs and essential oils. Others swear by their benefits. Herbs and essential oils are occur naturally in nature. They are often obtained through drying or distilling. Essential oils and herbs can be powerful in their pure form and often need to be diluted. Some undiluted essential oils and herbs can cause harm to your tissues.
When it comes to your mouth, herbs and essential oils have been known to dispose of harmful bacteria. They can also aid in reducing inflammation. One primary herb called calendula, or marigold, is helpful in relieving sore gums. It is also known to combat plaque and gingivitis.
Peppermint, lavender, red thyme, echinacea, and eucalyptus essential oils all promote gum health. It is believed that these, when combined, can also cut back on plaque and reduce inflammation. Again, essential oils may react strongly with your skin. Therefore, using a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, may be necessary.
If you feel intimidated by herbs and essential oils, it is be best to consult your dentist prior to using them. He or she may be able to present an option you are more comfortable with.
The ancient method of oil pulling is another popular way to stop your gums from bleeding. Oil pulling dates back thousands of years and is a traditional Indian method. This method is known as Ayurvedic medicine. Oil pulling consists of swishing one tablespoon of oil and spitting it out after 20 minutes. Coconut, sesame and sunflower oils are the most commonly used for oil pulling.
This approach may seem unconventional. Studies show that oil pulling can fight plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. The cells that exists in your mouth are covered by a sort of “skin” that is made up of a fatty membrane. Because the oil is a fat, it adheres to the fatty membrane of the cell and can then be expelled from the mouth when you spit.
How to Start Oil Pulling
When you begin oil pulling, it is best to start small. Most methods suggest swishing the oil around for 20 minutes, but that is a long time for a beginner. Start with five minutes and then work your way up.
It’s also recommended to primarily use coconut oil. Not only does coconut oil fight bacteria, but it contains lauric acid. Lauric acid has antimicrobial agents which kill harmful microbes. Coconut oil is also linked to helping prevent tooth decay. Rubbing a little bit of vitamin E oil directly onto the gums can also soothe red, swollen gums.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Last, but not least, one of the best ways to stop your gums from bleeding is to see your dentist on a regular basis. First, he or she will be able to let you know if your gums are bleeding due to an oral health issue, or a medical issue. Secondly, he or she will give you a plan of action to help with your bleeding gums.
We typically don’t have all the tools our dentists have, so visiting them every 3-6 months is vital. At your visit, a dental hygienist will work to scrape off tartar and plaque, above and below the gum line. The dentist will then examine your mouth. He or she will be looking at the health of your teeth and ensuring that your gums are not red or swollen.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Scheduling appointments and visiting the dentist is not always convenient. However, your oral health depends on it. Getting the plaque and build-up removed will help you stay clear of bleeding gums. You may have already progressed to gum disease. Don’t worry! Your dentist can work with you to stop the gum disease and prevent it from becoming a larger issue.
It’s important that you take the necessary steps to keep your gums from bleeding. If not, gingivitis can lead to many oral health issues.