One question that comes up with surprising frequency is: are bleeding gums normal? Bleeding gums are common, and many people experience them for a long period of time, but that doesn’t mean that bleeding gums are normal. Just that gum disease is common.
But even though gum disease is common, it’s not something you should ignore. Ignoring bleeding gums can have a dramatic impact on your oral health and your overall health.
What If It Were Your Hair?
Looking at the question from a different angle might help you see the problem more clearly. Instead of talking about bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, let’s pretend that it’s your scalp that bleeds when you brush your hair.
Maybe if it happened once or twice, you might think, “That’s weird,” and ignore it. But if it happened every day, you’d probably worry that there was something wrong. And that’s good, because in that case, yes, there’s definitely something wrong. And the same is true when your gums bleed.
What’s Going on?
There are two common explanations for why your gums bleed when you brush. One is that you’re brushing too hard, and the other is that you have gum disease. A visit to your dentist can help you figure out which it is.
For most people, gum disease is the problem. The most recent estimates from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) show that about half of all adults in the US have gum disease, which increases with age.
The minor form of gum disease is called gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Bleeding gums
- Red gums
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Tender gums
- Receding gums
- Bad breath
Gum disease is literally a chronic gum infection. Bacteria grow in the space between your teeth and gums, enlarging this space and damaging teeth and gums.
Who’s At Risk for Gum Disease?
As we said, the CDC estimates that about half of all Americans have some level of gum disease. All of us have some level of gum disease risk, but your risk may be higher if you:
- Smoke or use smokeless tobacco
- Vape (use e-cigarettes)
- Have diabetes
- Eat a diet high in carbs
- Don’t brush and floss daily
- Don’t see your dentist regularly
- Have a family history of gum disease
Gum disease is influenced by a combination of lifestyle factors and genetic factors. But smoking seems to be one of the biggest influences, and some research suggests vaping might be very bad, too. Your diet and oral hygiene will also make a big difference in your gum disease risk.
Visiting your dentist is crucial in preventing and treating gum disease. Hardened mineral deposits called tartar can form along your gum line that you can’t remove. These protect oral bacteria and accelerate the progress of gum disease.
What Happens If You Don’t Treat Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is not necessarily harmful itself. But if left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is very harmful. Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the US. It can also have a serious impact on your overall health.
People with gum disease are at an increased risk for many different health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune disorders
We haven’t always established a causal link between periodontitis and these health conditions. However, for many of them the evidence is strong, and in others the evidence may be circumstantial, but it’s increasing. The risk from these associations is high enough that even a small chance that gum disease can cause these argues for getting your gum disease treated.
See Us If Your Gums Are Bleeding
When you are experiencing bleeding gums, don’t just act as though it’s normal. It may be part of your daily routine, but it’s not normal: it’s a sign that something’s wrong.