The American Health Association reported that in 2007, around 100 million Americans did not visit a dentist. We tend to be concerned about oral health only when we begin to experience pain and discomfort. Dental checkups are recommended by dentists once every six months, but how many of us heed the advice? What’s interesting is that a healthy mouth is associated with a healthy body. Dental infections can affect the rest of the body, causing heart disease and stroke.
Maintenance of oral health
Gum is the portion of the body that surrounds the bottom of the teeth, known as tooth root. Gums are made of soft tissue and require the same amount of care as the actual teeth. Infection of the gums is referred to as gum disease. It is caused by a sticky bio film called plaque that accumulates on the surface of the teeth and gums. Acids and toxins are produced by the bacteria that make up plaque which cause redness, puffiness, or bleeding of the gums.
If gum disease is ignored, gums can pull away from the teeth over a period of time. Germs get trapped in the gap between the gum and the tooth, leading to weakness of the bone surrounding the teeth. Eventually, the teeth become loose and fall out. However, if caught at an early stage, good oral care can reverse the damage caused by gum disease.
Bleeding gums are indicative of gum disease or the potential for developing gum disease. Continuous gum bleeding may occur due serious medical issues such as bleeding disorders, platelet issues, or leukemia.
Bleeding Gums Causes
When looking for the causes of bleeding gums, we find that it is primarily induced by plaque formation at the gum line. This causes a condition called gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. If plaque is not removed, it becomes hard and forms tartar. This contributes to further bleeding and a more serious gum and jawbone condition called periodontitis. Bleeding gums may have other causes as well:
- Brushing too harshly
- Tooth- or gum-related infections
- Incorrect flossing
- Uncomfortable dentures or other dental fixtures
- Deficiency of vitamin K
- Hormonal changes due to pregnancy
- Bleeding disorders
- Usage of blood thinners
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (a bleeding disorder due to destroyed platelets)
Home Remedies for bleeding gums
The next question that naturally comes to mind is – how to stop bleeding gums? Several home remedies have been developed over time that have been found to be effective.
Citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges and fruits rich in vitamin C such as grapes, guava, kiwi mango, papaya, strawberry, and bell peppers help treat bleeding gums. When bleeding is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, loading up on these foods can help a lot. You can also take a synthetic vitamin C supplement for relief. In addition, vitamin C is an antioxidant that has the property of encouraging the growth of connective tissue and regeneration of the bone. Both these processes are affected by bleeding gums.
The juice of one medium-sized lemon can be mixed with a pinch of table salt and applied to the teeth. After allowing it to settle for 5 minutes, you can gargle with warm water to wash off the juice. The anti-inflammatory action of lemon juice reduces the bleeding and vitamin C fights infections.
Salt water gargle
A homemade saline solution is effective in increasing the blood circulation in the gums and reducing any swelling. A pinch of sea salt dissolved in lukewarm water can be used as a rinse/gargle for 30 seconds every morning and evening. The salt water can draw infection out of abscesses. Just be careful not to use scalding hot water that will burn your mouth.
Milk is a rich source of calcium that helps build strong bones and teeth. Increasing the consumption of milk is a good way of fighting bleeding gums. However, ensure that you do not drink whole milk since it also contains plenty of fat. Milk fats have a tendency to stick to the gums. Thus, you should brush your teeth every time you drink milk. According to dentists, one should avoid drinking milk an hour before going to bed. If you are lactose intolerant, this home remedy will not work for you.
Cranberry juice has the ability to prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth. Thus, drink up to 4 ounces of cranberry juice every day. Ensure that the juice is not sweetened because then the purpose of drinking it will be defeated. Beware – unsweetened cranberry juice is very bitter!
Nature’s medicine – honey – has proven antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Thus, it can treat infected gums. After brushing as usual, rub 1-2 drops of honey on the bleeding gums. Be careful not to apply it on the teeth because honey has a large amount of sugar. Control the amount of honey applied to the gums.
Cayenne pepper has anti-bacterial effects and is best used in the form of powder sprinkled on your regular toothpaste. Do not use more than a pinch to avoid burning your gums. A slight stinging sensation is to be expected when using this home remedy.
Of the many medicinal properties of aloe vera, one of them is the ability to treat bleeding gums. It can decrease inflammation of gums, thus leading to lesser bleeding. A tablespoon of fresh aloe vera pulp can be used to massage the gums. Let the pulp sit on the gums for 10-15 minutes before washing out your mouth.
If your gum disease is relatively mild, drinking natural aloe vera juice is highly beneficial.
Essential oils to treat bleeding gums
Several essential oils have the power to treat bleeding gums:
a) Cinnamon oil
Health benefits of Cinnamon oil for Bleeding Gums – Cinnamon essential oil is most effective against Streptococcus mutans, which causes tooth decay, and Lactobaccilus plantarum, which causes gum disease.
b) Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties that make it a good candidate for fighting bleeding gums. After brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth with a solution of lukewarm water into which 1-2 drops of tea tree oil have been added. You can also put a drop of tea tree oil on your regular toothpaste and brush your teeth as usual.
c) Neem oil
A study published in the Indian Journal of Dental Research in 2001 reported that mouthwashes with neem significantly suppressed the growth of the bacterium Streptococcus mutans found in the mouth. A 2008 study published in The Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry found that neem mouthwash reduced the incidence of plaque and gingivitis. With so many amazing medicinal benefits of Neem, Neem oil should, however, be used with caution because it can lead to poisoning in children and reduction of fertility in women.
d) Peppermint oil
Peppermint essential oil is effective against anerobic bacteria which live in the mouth and cause gum disease.
e) Oregano oil
With its anti-microbial properties, oregano oil is just what you need for gum disease. This oil is considered to be more effective than synthetic antibiotics in certain gum conditions. Take 2-3 drops of oregano oil on your finger and gently rub on the surface of the gums. Using too much oil can lead to rashes or burning, so it is wise to exercise restraint. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, you may not want to try this home remedy since the side effects on the baby are not known.
f) Clove oil
The use of clove oil is considered to be most effective in treating bleeding gums. It decreases the inflammation of gums and prevents further bleeding. Two-three drops of clove oil can be used to massage the gums or you can chew a couple of cloves. Be prepared to experience a burning sensation – this is okay and will help reduce inflammation.
Bleeding gums prevention
- Bleeding gums can be prevented by following a few tips religiously:
- Brush teeth gently at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is considered best to brush after each meal.
- Avoid using mouthwashes that have alcohol as an ingredient because it aggravates the condition.
- Properly floss teeth, paying attention to the back teeth that are more likely to have plaque because they are more difficult to reach.
- Change your toothbrush every 3 months. This is because worn out bristles are less effective at removing plaque.
- Do not stop brushing and flossing if you have bleeding gums.
- Avoid snacking between meals and reduce the amount of carbohydrates consumed.
- Get a dental checkup done regularly.
- Check your gums in the mirror periodically for changes in texture or color.
- Take supplements if you have vitamin deficiency as diagnosed by a doctor.
- Avoid taking aspirin unless it has been prescribed by a doctor.
So, if you discover bleeding gums when brushing, you should not ignore it. Try some of the home remedies for bleeding gums discussed in this article to see if you get relief. However, if homegrown solutions do not work for you, visit a reputed dentist straightaway. Proper care at an early stage is crucial to save your teeth.
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