Perils of Bleeding Gums
If gums start to bleed, you don’t have to panic immediately. But it could be a warning sign of a health issue that may turn systemic. If left unattended, more symptoms will follow.
The most common cause of bleeding gums is low-level gingivitis. This is the first stage of periodontal disease, meaning it’s still treatable at home. The bleeding may be as minimal as flecks after flossing. It may be accompanied by discolored or puffy gums, or breath that’s worse than usual.
You probably have plaque buildup. Most adults do, and the prevalence of plaque is why dentists stress regular cleanings. Plague buildup turns to tartar, and that’s bad. It cannot be removed by at-home care, and may require scaling and root planing—a periodontal procedure that involves lifting the gum wall to better access the tooth root.
The risk of gum disease increases with age. One reason is stress, which research has shown can decrease the body’s ability to fight infection. An outgrowth from this is data linking gum disease to health issues elsewhere in the body, like diabetes, cancer, and heart attack.
Regular hygiene habits can minimize your risk for gum disease. Some people are genetically more at risk than others, and your dentist can test to determine this. Keeping gingivitis from progressing to periodontitis is the aim of preventive care. Bleeding gums mean infection and inflammation have somehow breached your defenses.
Be on the lookout for lifestyle elements that could be involved. Quitting smoking and/or eating a balanced and nutritious diet are staples of strong oral health.
Contact our dentist if you’re overdue for a dental cleaning.
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