Q&A With Dr Emma
Hi Dr Emma. When brushing your teeth and you sense a bit of blood on your gums does it mean I am brushing too vigorously or that there may be an issue? Thanks! Franky from East Perth, WA.
When your gums bleed from brushing, it's usually a sign of gingivitis. Like any other part of your body, if you poke it hard enough it will bleed, but this shouldn't happen from normal brushing and flossing if your gums are healthy.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, characterised by redness and swelling. When plaque is left on your teeth, your body tries to launch an immune response and sends loads of blood to the area to try and fight off the infection. The only trouble is, rather than the plaque bacteria being inside the gum tissue, it's just next door stuck to the teeth. All the lovely immune cells and chemicals that your body is sending via the bloodstream do very little, and the extra blood flow causes the gums to swell, appear redder, and bleed very easily.
In bad cases of gingivitis the gums may even bleed just from eating. So, making sure your teeth are thoroughly but gently cleaned is the best place to start if you're noticing blood on your toothbrush.
Gums can also be a great indicator for your general health. If you have persistent bleeding gums despite good oral hygiene, it's important to have it checked out by a health professional. It may be something as simple as a vitamin deficiency, or in the extreme case something more sinister like leukaemia.