My gums bleed when I brush: Should I be concerned?

There are several reasons gum tissue may bleed during brushing. Many patients mistakenly believe that using a hard bristle toothbrush will work to eliminate plaque build-up. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of a hard bristle toothbrush is bleeding gum tissue and premature gum recession. Another misnomer is applying hard pressure will clean teeth better. Many patients end up visiting a periodontist because they used excessive force and a hard bristle toothbrush believing they were doing what was best to keep their teeth and gum tissue healthy. 

Many patients mistakenly believe that using a hard bristle toothbrush will work to eliminate plaque build-up.

Try easing up on the intensity of brushing, and consider switching to an electronic toothbrush. With an electronic toothbrush, you merely guide it to cover your teeth, gums and tongue. And most come equipped with a timer that signals when you have brushed the recommended two minutes.

If you are already using a soft bristle brush, don’t feel you are scrubbing versus brushing, and experiencing bleeding around the gums, you may need to pursue treatment to make sure you are not dealing with gingivitis or the more serious periodontitis.

If other symptoms are present, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your periodontist. This is a dentist that has completed additional years of education to diagnose and treat teeth and gum tissue that have become periodontally involved. Other symptoms include:

  • Swollen, red gums
  • Teeth pulling away from gum tissue
  • Discomfort
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Teeth that feel loose

What will a periodontist do to treat gum disease? Most often the first step is a deep cleaning referred to as root planing and scaling. In this procedure, plaque and bacteria beneath the gum line is removed, and the areas are smoothed in an effort to keep plaque from forming again.

Antibacterial rinses are often recommended to keep bacteria from building. Instructions are given to floss daily, brush appropriately, and keep those important twice yearly dental appointments for a thorough cleaning and dental exam.

Patients that follow these guidelines are less likely to have a recurrence of periodontal issues.

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