Man properly flossing his teeth

Five Things You Can Do If Your Gums Are Bleeding

Although the smallest amount of blood might not seem like a big deal, if your gums are bleeding consistently, you shouldn't ignore it. Here are eight ways you can make changes if you notice your gums bleeding.

We've all been there. You're brushing your teeth and notice a bit of pink when you spit out the toothpaste. Or maybe you see some bleeding when you floss. Although the smallest amount of blood might not seem like a big deal, if your gums are bleeding consistently, you shouldn't ignore it. Here's what you can do if you notice your gums bleeding.

1. Step Up Your Oral Care Game

According to Merck Manuals, the most significant cause of gingivitis is plaque build-up along the gum line. When you don't remove plaque, it hardens into tartar, a calcified material that plaque adheres to and continues to irritate the gums. This irritation can cause the gums to bleed and can progress into more advanced forms of gum disease.

The best way to reduce plaque build-up and your risk for bleeding gums is to amp up your oral care routine. Brush twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.

2. Take a Look at Your Tools

Your oral hygiene tools could be what's causing your gums to bleed. Although it might seem like a toothbrush with medium or firm bristles cleans your teeth better, harder bristles usually cause irritation — which can cause your gums to bleed. The Canadian Dental Association recommends using a toothbrush with soft bristles, which cleans your teeth and gums thoroughly without irritation. Flossing sporadically, instead of every day, can also cause bleeding gums. Remember to floss daily and avoid pressing the floss against your gums too hard.

3. Maintain a Healthy Diet

What you eat plays a part in keeping your gums healthy. Foods that contain lots of sugar or simple carbohydrates increase your risk for tooth and gum problems, as sugar creates an ideal environment for plaque. A diet full of whole foods, such as vegetables and fruits, gives your gums the nutrients they need. You don't have to ban sweets from your life — but eat them in moderation and brush afterward, so the sugar doesn't have time to stick around.

4. Consider Your Medicine

Certain medicines also increase the likelihood that your gums will bleed. Some over-the-counter pain relievers thin the blood and can increase bleeding. It's also possible for certain prescription medications to cause gum bleeding. If that is the case, your doctor might prescribe a different dose or a different drug altogether. Always talk to your doctor about medication side effects.

5. Try to Relax

High levels of stress can also affect your oral health. When you're stressed, you might be more likely to skip brushing or flossing or choose to eat fast food instead of a balanced meal. Stress also increases inflammation in your body, which makes your gums more likely to bleed. Severe stress can cause biochemical changes in the body, affecting the immune system, leaving your body vulnerable to disease according to Public Health Canada. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed.

6. Quit Smoking

According to the Ontario Dental Hygienists Association, smoking has been established as a significant risk factor for gum disease. Tobacco reduces blood flow to the gums, depriving them of oxygen and nutrients that allow gums to stay healthy, leaving them vulnerable to bacterial infection. Quitting can be tough, but it's one of the most important things to do if you want to protect your oral and overall health.

7. Stop Sharing

Gum disease and bleeding gums are contagious. Bacteria related to gingivitis can pass between partners or parents and children. It's good to avoid sharing things like toothbrushes or dirty silverware and water glasses to be safe.

8. See Your Dentist

If these changes don't help your gums to stop bleeding, the next step is to see your dentist. They will examine your teeth and gums and determine if you have a more severe condition, such as advanced gum disease. If they believe treatment is needed, such as a deep cleaning or periodontal surgery, you'll likely visit with a periodontist who specializes in treating gum disease.

In many cases, bleeding gums are no big deal, but sometimes it can warrant professional treatment. If it's been a while since you've seen your dentist, make an appointment today. Getting the issue diagnosed and making the necessary changes will help improve the health of your mouth considerably. With the right diagnosis and personal care, bleeding gums can become a thing of the past.