Bleeding Gums: Don’t Ignore This Red Flag
When referring to the origin of his nickname, Bleeding Gums Murphy once said, “Well, let me put it this way… you ever been to the dentist? Not me. I suppose I should go to one, but I got enough pain in my life as it is.”
Bleeding Gums Murphy, an iconic character from The Simpsons, well knew the reason for the illness that he bore, and “died” aged 59 from an apparent heart attack. And while everyone has a chuckle at the irreverent and often too-real characterisation of these TV characters, the life lessons ring uncomfortably true.
Bleeding gums are more common than you might imagine and can be caused by something as innocuous as brushing too vigorously or be rooted in something more sinister.
Common Causes of Bleeding Gums
Without being overly simplistic, if your gums are bleeding from one of the following common causes, then the fix is pretty clear-cut:
- Overly vigorous brushing.
- A toothbrush that is too hard for your mouth.
- Ill-fitting dentures.
- Vigorous flossing, especially if your teeth and gums are not yet used to it.
If these are the causes, then we commend you on a good oral hygiene routine, but we’d like to caution you against being a little too hard on your teeth and gums. Gentle, regular cleaning should not be painful.
You may, however, be suffering from a little more than over enthusiastic brushing. What else do you need to look out for?
Gingivitis is an unfortunately common disease which causes inflammation of the gums. Usually, this is from a build-up of bacteria at the gumline but can also be brought on by pregnancy (pregnancy gingivitis). Symptoms include bad breath and red, swollen gums which will bleed easily during brushing. Fortunately, this is a mild ailment and can be rectified fairly quickly with a good oral hygiene routine.
It’s important to note that bleeding gums can be a sign of something more serious and it is therefore important to get checked out by a professional.
Swollen bleeding gums are a red flag for type 1 or 2 diabetes. If your body’s immune system is struggling, as is the case in those developing or suffering from diabetes, you are likely to be prone to infection. Periodontal disease resulting from long-term mouth infections will affect the gums, teeth and bones in your mouth. Diabetics are at risk of gum disease due to their body’s poor lack of blood sugar control, which adds to an already serious illness as gum disease can actually cause a rise in blood sugar.
Our modern diet makes it surprisingly difficult to get all the essential vitamins that our bodies need to operate optimally. A lack of Vitamin C and Vitamin K may show in bleeding gums, along with general fatigue, irritability and weakness. Scurvy is not just for sailors and is another disease characterised by bleeding gums and opening of old sores brought on by poor nutrition.
Treat Bleeding Gums as a Priority
Whatever is causing your gums to bleed certainly needs to be addressed as a priority. Infections in the mouth affect your overall health and have been linked to serious problems such as heart disease, brain disorders, and memory loss.
Left untreated, even a mild infection such as gingivitis can cause irreparable damage to your teeth, gums, and the bones in your face.
If you are concerned about bleeding gums, then we encourage you to get it seen to as soon as possible. Our dentists will be able to determine whether you simply need a new toothbrush, or you require an appointment with a specialist for something more serious.
We recommend seeing a dentist regularly for a professional cleaning on as part of your overall health plan, and it’s often during these visits that potential problems can be identified and rectified before they become a major problem.
Don’t ignore bleeding gums – they are an indication that something is amiss. Contact one of our skilled, friendly team to book your appointment.