Ask a doc: ‘Why do my gums bleed after I brush my teeth, and what should I do about it?’

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If you notice your gums are bleeding after you brush your teeth, you could have other symptoms as well, such as tenderness and swelling. 

Oral health is very important — and if your gums bleed, you should bring this up with your dental professional. 

“Gums may start to look swollen and turn reddish in color prior to gum bleeding,” said Alice G. Boghosian, DDS, consumer adviser and spokesperson for the American Dental Association. She practices at Hagopian & Boghosian Dentistry in Glenview, Illinois. 

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“If you notice blood in the sink when you brush your teeth, and you experience it for more than two weeks, you should consult your dentist, as it’s possible you may be at risk for gum disease.”  

Fox News Digital interviewed dental experts about how to stay healthy, protect your pearly whites and your gums — read on. 

There are many potential reasons for bleeding gums, medical experts say. 

“In some cases, bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease,” said Sally J. Cram, DDS, consumer adviser and spokesperson for the American Dental Association. She is a periodontist with a practice in Washington, D.C.  

“Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and bone that surround your teeth, and is caused by a buildup of plaque.” 

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In addition to gums that bleed easily, symptoms of gum disease in its early stages may include red, swollen and tender gums as well as bad breath, she said.

Additionally, Dr. Cram said many women develop bleeding and swollen gums during puberty, pregnancy, menopause and during their monthly menstrual cycle. 

“This is due to increased hormone levels, which make the gums more sensitive to plaque and bacteria,” she said. 

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Another potential cause of bleeding gums? It might be a new flossing routine, which may cause gums to bleed at first as they get used to the cleaning between the teeth, said Dr. Cram. 

“This goes away on its own within about a week,” she said. 

Lastly, brushing too hard or incorrectly may cause bleeding gums. 

“It’s always wise to ask your dentist and dental hygienist to suggest the right toothbrush for you and to review how to use it correctly,” Dr. Cram suggested.

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Many causes are temporary, like implementing a new flossing routine, or can easily be adjusted, like brushing too hard or using the wrong toothbrush.

Yet if you have additional symptoms like bad breath or swollen, tender gums, and you have experienced symptoms for longer than two weeks, you should visit your dentist or periodontist, Dr. Cram advised.

Dr. Boghosian with Hagopian & Boghosian said these issues may also raise the risk of gum disease:

It’s possible that bleeding gums can be a symptom of gum disease, an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. 

“Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a major cause of tooth loss in adults,” periodontist Dr. Cram said. 

Additional warning signs of gum disease, she said, include red, tender gums; gums that have begun to pull away from the teeth; persistent bad breath; permanent teeth that are loose or separating; any changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite; or any changes in the fit of partial dentures. 

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“If these symptoms persist for two weeks, you should visit your dentist or periodontist,” Dr. Cram cautioned.

Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing, said Dr. Cram. 

“While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke,” she indicated.

“Bacteria in the mouth and gum disease have also been implicated in higher risks of oral cancer, and although it is not very common, persistent red, bleeding gums can also be a sign of certain blood disorders such as leukemia.” 

Regular dental checkups and periodontal exams are advised. 

Treatment of periodontitis can be non-surgical or surgical. 

Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed, Boghosian at Hagopian & Boghosian said.

Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring.  

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“To help prevent periodontal disease, it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day, clean between your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet, schedule regular dental visits and avoid smoking or chewing tobacco,” Boghosian recommended. 

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