What Does it Mean if My Gums Bleed After I Brush?

Let’s say you woke up, ate breakfast, and gave those teeth a good scrubbing session.  As you spit out that minty toothpaste, you notice something pink going down the drain. A quick mouth inspection reveals that a few areas of your mouth are red with blood.  Some people assume that they’ve just brushed too hard but bleeding gums should never be expected.

Mostly Likely, You Have Gingivitis

Nine times out of ten, bleeding gums means that you have a bacterial infection called gingivitis.  This preventable condition is caused by plaque buildup from not brushing and flossing well enough.  To clarify a bit, every person on earth has their own unique set of bacteria, bad habits, eating styles, genetic makeup, water intake, medication lists and so on.  So, what works for your neighbor might not work for you.  Generally brushing really well twice a day and flossing carefully at least once a day will effectively remove harmful bacteria that live in and all around the teeth.

It Might Be Complicated

Now there are systemic defects people have that can complicate things a little bit.  For instance, if you have diabetes, chances are you would be more susceptible to infection.  This medical condition reduces the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and healing usually takes longer to occur.  Since diabetics run higher blood sugar levels and germs feed off of that sugar, mouth bacteria thrive.  This allows bacteria to harden up along and under the gumline which leads to inflammation.  Tartar buildup should be managed more vigilantly for those of us with Diabetes.

Changes in hormones and vitamin or nutrient deficiencies can also increase your body’s response to infection.  Vitamin C and Niacin are examples of vitamins that we need for their tissue healing properties.  Infection rates are much higher with people that don’t eat healthy diets.  Pregnant women and teenagers sometimes notice more bleeding when their hormones are raging.

Stress is also a killer for your immune system and we often see patients developing gingivitis more quickly in times of turmoil.  Your body has an amazing way of dealing with emotional stress but often times those defense mechanisms don’t allow for you to fight off mouth bacteria well.  Ever heard the term “trench mouth?”  Also known as ANUG, Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis, develops very quickly in people with high stress levels and mouth bacteria that have taken over.  Basically, the body can’t keep up with the fight and the tissue in the mouth starts to detach from the teeth.  It can be a very uncomfortable condition that needs immediate treatment from your dental team.

The takeaway here is that bleeding gums are not normal.  We can never stress enough that if your gums are bleeding, you have a problem.  Even though some of us need to work a little harder to keep our mouths healthy, the key element of gingivitis is still bacteria.  If you see blood in your sink after you brush, call us right away for an evaluation.