Healthy gums DO NOT bleed. Bleeding gums are in fact, the cardinal sign of gum disease. Or to put it more simply, it is evidence that your body is fighting an infection in your gums.
If this is true in your case then you are not alone; most studies estimate that about 50% of the general population is currently infected with some form of periodontal disease.
Recent studies continue to reveal the serious threat that gum diseases poses to our overall health and life span. Therefore, it is critical to take control of your periodontal health now and we are here to help!
Here are our top 10 ways to stop bleeding gums once and for all:
1. See your dentist more frequently
Most people have been programmed to see their dentist every 6 months. This seems to be engrained into Western health culture as some sort of golden rule. And it is actually – for people with perfectly healthy teeth and gums!
However, if your gums are bleeding and/or inflamed (a.k.a. infected) then obviously the 6 month routine is not working for you and you may need to see the dentist every 3 months and/or consider some for of intervention therapy to arrest the disease process. Don’t let the parameters of your dental insurance dictate your health choices! Ask your own dentist how often you should be attending, and for tailored advice on how to treat your bleeding gums!
Which leads us nicely to suggestion #2…
2. Periodontal intervention (a.k.a. periodontal treatment)
Routine cleanings are for people with healthy teeth and gums. Infected gums require specialized care, often utilizing advanced instruments and medicaments as well as treatment protocols that are specifically tailored for the periodontally involved patient (this usually means a different type of cleaning and more often).
The good news is that modern dentistry has helped to make these procedures more effective and more comfortable than ever before. These additional procedures may or may not be covered by insurance but that should not be your only consideration in determining your health choices.
Instead, remember this – early intervention is always less extensive and less expensive! Ask your dentist about your options ASAP! You may be best referred to a specialist periodontist.
3. Brush your teeth
Duh! We all know this one (and most of us actually do it). However, most of us aren’t doing it often enough or long enough. It takes about 2 minutes to thoroughly clean a mouth full of teeth.
Sadly, some studies have estimated the average brushing time for most adults at less than 30 seconds. Tooth brushing should be done after every meal and snack (What?! I thought I only had to brush twice a day?!) Brushing twice a day is typically recommended for people who don’t have any dental disease.
Try increasing both the frequency and duration of brushing. Your goal should be to brush after every meal and snack for at least 2 min (but note – you should wait around half an hour between eating and brushing – this will reduce the risk of causing enamel damage – ask your dentist for what is best in your circumstances).
And having bleeding gums when brushing is not a reason to brush less often!!!
4. Brush your teeth…. Properly!
Hey wait…you just mentioned this one. Yes, but brushing technique is so important that we thought it deserved its own spot on our top 10 list.
If you are already brushing often enough and long enough, then perhaps it is your technique that is suffering. Many people use brushes that are too stiff and they brush their teeth like they are trying to clean their BBQ grill.
All studies now show that soft bristled brushes are more effective because they can bend and flex into the curves and corners and tight spaces around your teeth and gums. Think about it…you’re not scrubbing your flat tile floor. Your teeth are rounded and the places that need to be cleaned the most are in the hard to reach corners and crevices.
Hard brushing and stiff bristled brushes just won’t get the job done. In fact a hard bristled brush can cause traumatic bleeding (self-induced, not infection in origin).
Use a soft bristled brush and a gentle circular motion with the bristles pointed at a 45-degree angle into your gum line to get the best results!
Read more here on using a proper technique, your first key weapon in learning how to stop bleeding gums.
5. Anti-bacterial mouth rinse
As we already stated, bleeding = infected gums.
Yes, gum disease is the result of a bacterial infection. That is the bad news. The good news is that there is a variety of anti-bacterial mouth rinses available that are actually effective at reducing the amount of bacteria infecting your gums. Also good news, they are getting better tasting all the time (most of them do still sting a little though!).
Mouth rinse is not a “magic bullet home remedy” nor is it a replacement for other important home care techniques, but it is useful in your fight to cure bleeding gums. Plus, it makes your breath smell better which your loved ones will no doubt appreciate!
Usually rinsing 1-2 times daily for 30 seconds is sufficient to help reduce bacterial infection.
Read more on mouthwash here.
6. Inter-dental devices
These include toothpicks, ‘stim-u-dent’, those plastic toothpick/floss thingies (a.k.a. ‘floss-picks’) and other devices used to remove food from between teeth and disrupt bacterial activity.
These are not recommended for most people as a replacement for flossing but they are a great last resort if you occasionally can’t brush or floss after a business lunch or something. For best results, DON’T stick the device in perpendicular to your tooth (this can actually irritate the gum and even cause recession – more on that here – in severe cases).
Instead, DO gently and carefully slide the device under the gum in line with your tooth and then sweep it back toward the surface of the gum to remove debris and disrupt bacteria hiding under the gumline.
For more advice on interdental cleaning read this.
7. Learn about the problem
Great job! You are already working on this one. Knowledge is power and in this case knowledge can save your life.
Bleeding gums is associated with increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, pre-term low birth-weight babies, certain lung infections and many other serious overall health risks. As a result, people with untreated gum disease typically have greater overall health complications and can even shorten their life span. In fact, some studies suggest that getting rid of periodontitis can extend your life span up to 6 or 7 years.
8. See your physician
Your gums are not just a part of your mouth they are also connected to the rest of your body. Usually bleeding gums is a sign of local infection. Rarely, it can be a sign of serious systemic health problems such as hormone imbalance, a blood clotting disorder or even leukemia.
While this is usually not the case, it is always a good idea to consider all possibilities, especially if bleeding persists after concentrated efforts to improve the symptoms.
While gingival problems are more common in pregnancy, this is due in most cases to an increased reaction to plaque bacteria. Extra care is needed – read more on this here.
9. Healthy diet and lifestyle
Ones diet and lifestyle does not play a directly significant role in getting rid of gum disease once you have it. In the Western world, dietary vitamin deficiency is rarely a cause of periodontal disease. However, diet does play a role in both the prevention and maintenance of the problem.
A diet that is high in raw fruits and vegetables will provide you with the vitamins and minerals that are essential to healthy teeth and gums. Additionally, since gingivitis is a result of bacterial infection and bacteria is known to thrive in a sugary environment, then it stands to reason that a diet that is low in sugar will only make it easier to achieve and maintain gingival health.
You thought we forgot about this one didn’t you? Nope. We are just saving the best for last.
All too often, the thing that leads to the development and progression of bleeding gums is…you guessed it – lack of flossing! Flossing is more important than ever. Why? As we have already stated, gum disease is the result of bacteria. BUT, these are not just lonely, isolated and easy-to-kill bacteria. Oh, NO. They are well-organized, well-protected, militant bacteria organised in what we call a “biofilm“.
Biofilm is like an organized crime syndicate in that individual bacteria don’t work alone. Rather, they get “connected” to form large colonies which not only work to destroy your gum and bone tissues but also infiltrate your blood stream and end up in your vital organs. They are extremely aggressive and also have a great built-in defense mechanism. Biofilm is covered in a sticky substance that protects the bacteria from attack and make them difficult to remove from your teeth and gums.
Floss is the NUMBER ONE way to remove the plaque biofilm and disrupt this malicious bacterial invasion. The challenge, however, is the plaque bacteria reforms quickly (in less than 24 hours) which is why even people with healthy mouths need to floss at least daily to help prevent the formation and spread of bacteria throughout their mouth.
If you are already suffering from the problem and really want to know how to stop gums from bleeding, – in addition to other necessary treatments and behavior modification – flossing twice a day is an absolute must!
Note that it may take some time and patience before you manage to stop the bleeding completely when flossing.
You will never regret the time, effort and resources you dedicate to improving your gum health. You will look and feel better now and you will set yourself up for better overall health down the line. As a result, you will likely save on future health care costs and could even add years to your life.
What better reasons could there be for the stopping of your bleeding gums once and for all!