When brushing your teeth, do you ever look down and see red? If there’s a lot, it can be cause for concern, but if there’s only a little, you can fix that problem yourself. Bleeding gums may look scary, but if you deal with them soon enough, you won’t have anything to worry about.

What Causes Bleeding Gums?

Bleeding, sensitive gums are the result of inadequate plaque removal, which means you aren’t doing the best job of brushing and flossing your teeth. The plaque that brushing and flossing remove contains germs that attack the healthy tissue surrounding your teeth. These germs cause inflamed or irritate gums if not brushed away, which may cause gums to bleed during your oral routine. Bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease, but can be treated and reversed when acknowledged early. They shouldn’t be left to worsen. Bleeding gums can also be caused by pregnancy and the hormonal changes it triggers. When pregnant, your whole body—including your gums—are affected, and pregnancy gingivitis can develop. Your gums can swell and become overly sensitive, which may result in a red sink. Your dentist can advise you on the best course of action if this occurs. Certain medicines can make your gums more likely to bleed, too, even if you have excellent oral health habits. The use of aspirin and blood thinners will keep your blood from clotting, meaning you’re more likely to see red. They’ll increase your risk of bleeding gums and can cause them to bleed for longer than they should. Talking to your dentist about the medications you are currently taking will help them assist you better. The last reason your gums may start to bleed when brushing or flossing is if you’ve recently started a new oral health regime. If you are brushing or flossing more often, your gums can react this way until they get used to your new (and improved) habits. As you continue to brush and floss more often, your gums will bleed less and eventually stop. It’s important to note that brushing too hard can cause your gums to bleed. When you brush, use a gentle motion and a toothbrush with soft bristles.

What Happens if You Don’t Fix Bleeding Gums?

If you don’t take your oral health seriously and have no intention of fixing this problem, a lot worse can happen to your mouth and your body. When not taken care of, this early stage of gum disease can develop into periodontal disease, which can be very painful. It will seriously affect your gums and can cause your teeth to fall out. As for the rest of your body, gum disease is connected to other serious health conditions. Cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and even sexual health have all be linked to gum disease. If you don’t want to increase your risk of developing more serious ailments, you need to have a happy mouth that is home to healthy gums.

Related: How Diabetes Affects Your Mouth

When You Should See a Dentist About Your Bleeding Gums If you practice good oral habits, your gums should get better without having to schedule a trip to the dentist. However, more blood more often is a cause for concern. If your gums are bleeding regularly after every time you brush for weeks on end, you should make an appointment to see your dentist. If your gums continue to bleed for a long time after you’ve finished brushing or flossing, that also warrants a trip. Bleeding gums are not a good sign no matter the amount of red you see. Caused by new oral habits, pregnancy, medicines, and negligence, failure to treat bleeding gums can have a negative effect on the rest of your body. A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth.

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