It’s a question that comes up with surprising frequency. Is it normal for my gums to bleed? As the 2 Works for You dentist, Dr. Kevin Winters had the opportunity to address this persistent query, and, hopefully, put any misconceptions to rest.
What If It Were Your Arm?
Dr. Winters responded to this question by reframing it to look at a different body part. He asked if it would be normal if rubbing your arm caused it to bleed. Of course that wouldn’t be normal.
If you think that brushing your teeth is aggressive enough to induce bleeding, take your toothbrush and rub it on your arm with the same motions you might use to brush your teeth. You’ll see that this doesn’t make your arm bleed. But if your arm starts to bleed, then you’re brushing your teeth too hard.
What’s Going on?
There are many potential problems that could be causing your gums to bleed when you brush. But the most likely explanation is that you have gum disease. About 80% of people have some form of gum disease. Mostly, people have gingivitis, the mild form of gum disease, which can cause your gums to bleed.
Other symptoms of gingivitis include:
Gum disease is a bacterial infection of your gums. For most people, gum disease is related to how carefully you take care of your teeth. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing your teeth every day.
It’s also important to make your regular dental checkups. Plaque on your teeth can be hardened by your saliva. This is called tartar and it makes it easier for bacteria to infect your gums and can’t be removed by you at home. Your dentist or hygienist will remove the tartar and address your gum disease.
What Happens If You Don’t Treat Gingivitis?
We don’t have evidence that gingivitis in and of itself is harmful. But if left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease that can lead to loose teeth or lost teeth. It can also contribute to serious systemic health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune disorders
And, obviously, at that point it is too late to be worrying about bleeding gums. But treating gum disease can help improve your overall health and may reduce your risk of these serious health conditions.
Don’t Ignore Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums is a sign that your body is trying to fight a serious infection. Leaving that infection untreated can have dangerous consequences for your oral and overall health.