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Gums are pinky and spongy structures, essential for holding and protecting the teeth. They adhere to the teeth very closely to prevent entry or spreading of the infection inside, to the root of the teeth or jaw bone. Due to ageing or disease, gums weaken and recess, paving way for teeth falling out , so in all this process of receding, the teeth seem to be elongated, sensitive and feel shaky with bleeding.
Bleeding from the gums is mainly due to injury, infection, or inflammation of the gums. Such infected or inflamed gums are medically called gingivitis. It can be seen as red line of blood in the gum line. If bleeding persists, then it should be taken seriously, as it is a possible indication of illnesses like leukemia, bleeding disorders, etc. One should be aware of hemophiliacs who usually bleed to death, so bleeding gums is a serious condition.
Causes of bleeding gums
Bacterial, viral or fungal infections arise in the gums and teeth produce acids and toxins that usually erode and cause inflammation of the gums. The inflammation makes gums swollen, red and spongy that increases the tendency to bleed and weakens the stability of the teeth by recession. Bleeding gums is more commonly seen in adults, since in case of children, it is mostly due to injury due to improper brushing. In case of adults or the aged, it is often found to be related to a disease. Females have higher incidences for bleeding gums than males. Marginal gingivitis is most common as bleeding from gums comes usually near the base of the teeth.
Bleeding gums may be due to:
Injury or trauma, which may be caused by a blow, insertion of foreign substances, tooth picking, dentures, improper brushing, flossing... It may also get injured from irritation of chemicals and acids in foods, drinks, mouth fresheners, tooth whiteners and medicines.
Disease - conditions can also cause bleeding gums. For example, there could be gum problems or infection of gums, retracted or receded gums, weak and spongy gums. It is also a common incidence of dental problems such as caries, excessive tartar or plaque formation, periodontitis.
Mouth sores can also spread infection to gums to cause bleeding.
Blood disorders, bleeding and clotting disorders, deficiency of coagulation factors, Thrombocytopenic purpura, hemophilia, and leukemia can cause bleeding as well.
Systemic, such as liver disorders, kidney disorders, arterial or capillary diseases, diabetes, or heart disorder can also reflect as bleeding gums.
Nutritional and physiological, such as vitamin C and K deficiency will lead to bleeding disorders.
Pregnancy and hormonal changes can also cause gums to bleed occasionally, as well as poor oral hygiene, due to infection and weakness.
Medications could also cause bleeding gums, because continuous usage of blood thinners, such as Aspirin, heparin therapy, pain-killers and treatment procedures like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, can also cause bleeding from gums.
Hot food and chemicals can end up burning the gums, further resulting in bleeding. For example, some people still follow the practice of placing pain relieving tablets on the gum adjacent to the painful tooth, which invariably causes burns. Certain rapidly spreading infections can damage the blood vessels of the gums resulting in bleeding as well.
Symptoms of bleeding gums
- Bleeding on slightest injury or even touch
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Blood with bloody taste in mouth
- Sometimes, due to bleeding gums, pus can be squeezed from the gums
- Bad breath
- Recession of gums from the teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose and shaky teeth
- Difficulty and discomfort in mastication and food intake occasionally due to pain and sensitiveness
Diagnosing bleeding gums
For persistent bleeding gums, there are some essential tests:
- oral examination of teeth and gums
- X-rays of teeth and jaw
- Blood analysis
- Tc, Dc, Esr, Hb%, sugar, calcium, urea, and creatinine
- Coagulation factors and serum prothrombin time
- Bleeding and clotting time
Bleeding gums prevention
Everyone who want to prevent bleeding gums should avoid hard and fast brushing, hard diets and snacks which can cause injury such as chips, sour foods or drinks, hot drinks, carbonated acid drinks, sticky chocolates, pain-killers, blood thinners and unnecessary medication. You should rinse mouth with mouth fresheners often. Tobacco chewing, betel nut chewing and smoking is something that you should also avoid. Take care of plaque deposits by proper cleaning and visiting dentist regularly. Use soft bristle toothbrushes to brush gently and use vitamin supplements in case of deficiency. Use well-balanced nutritious diet, proper mastication, and brush away the food particles in the mouth after every meal. Oral hygiene and dental health is very important as well. Try to gargle with salty warm water after every meal.
Taking care of bleeding gums
Apply gentle pressure for compression, but if bleeding persists apply ice or take ice-cold drinks or juices to stop bleeding. Do not brush the teeth; instead you can rinse with salty warm water. Keep away from all new medication and visit your physician or dentist at the earliest opportunity to rule out the causes. It is important to visit the dentist at least once every six months for plaque removal. Follow your dentist’s home care instructions, because the dentist may recommend rinsing with salt water or hydrogen peroxide and water. Try to avoid using commercial, alcohol-containing mouthwashes, which aggravate the problem.
Floss teeth twice a day to keep plaque from building up on your teeth. Eliminate snacks between meals and reduce carbohydrate intake to help prevent plaque build-up on teeth. Use an oral irrigation device on the low setting to massage the gums, and maintain a balanced, healthy diet. You should also know some additional tips that could be helpful for bleeding gums. First, you should avoid the use of tobacco, which aggravates bleeding gums. Have poorly fitting dentures adjusted and relined by your dentist if they are causing sore spots in gums causing bleeding gums.
Try to avoid aspirin unless your health care provider has recommended that you take it. Control gum bleeding by applying pressure directly on the gums with a gauze pad soaked in ice water, and if you have been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency, take recommended vitamin supplements. If side effects of medication are irritating, you could ask your doctor to adjust or substitute another medication. It is also important to know you should never change your medication without consulting your doctor.