If eating, flossing or brushing with a gentle-bristled toothbrush is causing your gums to bleed, then you need to see your dentist. Many people think a little blood is normal; that’s not the case. Bleeding along the gum line is a sign of periodontal disease, which can lead to bone loss and tooth loss if left untreated.
“What’s causing this bleeding is a build-up of bacteria and food along your gum line and your teeth,” said Richard Paternoster, DDS, a dentist at Coast Dental Spring Hill.
“If you had bleeding on your scalp, you’d want the doctor to get you back to a healthy, normal state. And that’s our intention: to get you back to your healthy, normal state,” Dr. Paternoster said. He explains to his patients, “I understand you used to go to see your dentist every six months and it was a quick cleaning and it was whatever your insurance paid for, but unfortunately, that’s not treating your disease because you’re still bleeding. So we need to do a deeper cleaning to clear out the bacteria.”
Dr. Paternoster, who has been a practicing dentist since 2002, has heard many people try to blame their bleeding gums on something else instead, such as genetics. He tells those patients, “You’re right; there is a heredity factor to it. It’s more than that, though. Something is initiating the bleeding: the bacteria. Your family members have lost teeth because of it, but if we treat you, you can possibly avoid getting dentures. It’s not inevitable you’re going to lose your teeth; we can do something for you.”
Other people have misconceptions that their bleeding gums are caused by age, smoking, pregnancy or even diabetes. Those may be contributing factors, but the main trigger of bleeding gums is still the bacteria, Dr. Paternoster said.
If your dentist has told you that you have gingivitis, then you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease, and is the only stage that is reversible. “If we don’t treat it, the disease will progress and break down the bone and you risk losing the tooth,” Dr. Paternoster explained. “So now is the perfect time to treat it so it won’t progress.”
It can be empowering to realize you don’t have to live with seeing blood on your toothbrush or in the sink anymore. The first step to improving your health is to see a dentist.
Richard Paternoster, DDS, has been a practicing dentist since 2002. He provides general dentistry services to patients starting at age 12. His services include crown lengthening, extractions, periodontal disease management, root canal therapy and retreatment and veneers. Dr. Paternoster currently practices at 13146 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville, FL 34613.
Written By: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed By: Richard Paternoster, DDS
Reviewed By: Charbel Klaib, DMD
Reviewed By: Cindy Roark, DMD