Ever wonder why we have gums? As the pink spongy tissue that hold our teeth together, gums also function to protect teeth. Fitting to the name, your gums adhere to your teeth and bones to seal the teeth and prevent entry to the root of your teeth and jaw bones against outside objects and infection. Thanks to your gums, the roots of your teeth stay planted firmly in your mouth. As the most tender part of the tooth, your roots connect to nerve endings, making them sensitive and vulnerable, requiring the protective shield of your gums to prevent unnecessary pain.
As you get older, your gums may get weakened or recess which makes it easier for your teeth to lose hold and fall out. When gums are aged or diseased, they begin to reveal more of your tooth (making your teeth look larger or elongated) and become sensitive and bleed easily. Your gums may bleed when you floss for the first time after a while, when your gums are injured (ever got a sharp piece of food stuck in your gums? It hurts!), when your gums are infected or when they are inflamed.
Serious Conditions to Be Aware Of
When your gums are infected and inflamed, the medical world calls that “gingivitis.” Patients may suffer with gingivitis for years and even let it develop into a more serious condition called “periodontitis” that attacks the sockets and ligaments in the mouth, causing rapid tooth loss if left untreated. It is estimated that up to one-third of Americans suffer from this disease . You can detect gingivitis as a red line of blood in the gum line . It is important to seek treatment because if the bleeding persists, this may implicate your bleeding gums as a symptom leukemia, a bleeding disorder, or other diseases. Hemophiliacs should be extra careful as bleeding gums become more serious and could cause the afflicted to bleed to death.
What You Can Do to Prevent
Ensure that your gums are well brushed along with the teeth at least twice a day and between meals where possible. Brushing your teeth is one of the best preventative treatments because gingivitis forms as plaque accumulates along the gum line. Be gentle, however–many people mistakenly believe that scrubbing harder removes more plaque. The problem is that brushing your teeth is not like scrubbing any other surface. Plaque is sticky like jelly, not sticky like glue, and you don’t need to apply strong force to break its soft adherence to the tooth. So, don’t scrub very hard to get it off, scrub just enough to mechanically break up the plaque and prevent the hardening formation of tartar. Most dentists recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush and holding it at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Brush regularly (but not too rough!), floss regularly, and use a soft bristle brush, and you will prevent bleeding gums. Other ways to stop bleeding gum problems and bleeding gums’ blisters is to avoid alcohol and aspirin because they negatively affect your body’s ability to clot blood.
Risks of Bleeding Gums
If potentially losing your teeth weren’t a scary prospect on its own, periodontal disease can be very dangerous to your systemic health. More than just discomfort and unnecessary trouble, periodontal disease also causes major stress to the immune system. As your body tries heal and fight off infection in your gums, it uses up disease-fighting resources needed for fighting more serious infections, scavenging waste products, and defending the body against cancer. Aside from the risk hemophiliacs run of bleeding to death, even patients without coagulation problems are also at risk for experiencing more serious complications as a result of their bleeding gums (including heart disease).
What to do When You Have Excessive Bleeding
Because bleeding from the mouth could be caused by anything from gum disease to a coagulation problem, most dentists suggest seeing a periodontist. Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease, so there’s not a lot they haven’t seen before and will know how to treat. The periodontist can address the condition of your gums and offer effective treatment options. If you have gingivitis as a result of the accumulation of plaque along the gum line, this can be treated by the periodontist and will prevent the formation of periodontitis. As the advanced and more serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis is developed when plaque hardens into tartar, which causes even worse bleeding and more serious complications and needs immediate attention from your periodontist. So, if you think you have gingivitis or have even advanced to periodontitis, don’t wait to meet with a periodontist.