Bleeding Gums and Your Health

Bleeding Gums and Your Health


REPRINT: Bradley Piotrowski,DDS,MSD,LLC • 27 Jun, 2019

Even healthy gums are fairly delicate tissues. They may bleed a little when you have dental work done, when you accidentally bite the sharp edge of a potato chip, or when you floss your teeth in a hurry. But if your gums seem to be getting more sensitive, bleeding more, and looking a bit red or inflamed, that typically means you're starting to get gingivitis.

If you've been taking great care of your mouth and gums as usual, this can be concerning. You may be genetically inclined to gum disease, or perhaps something in your environment or another health issue is affecting your gum health. Here are four issues with your overall health that your gums could be trying to alert you to.

1. Sleep Problems

Sleep apnea can cause or contribute to nighttime tooth grinding, officially known as bruxism. If you suffer from bruxism, you may have complications such as TMJ disorders or irritated, inflamed gums. Grinding your teeth while asleep can put enormous pressure on your teeth, gums, and jaw, which is why many people end up with cracked or chipped teeth from grinding.

Your gums don't like being under a lot of pressure on a regular basis, which is why they may recede or become inflamed and sensitive if you suffer from bruxism.

  1. Blood Sugar Regulation Problems

Whether you have diabetes or just higher than normal blood sugar (such as with prediabetes), your gums can suffer from it. Diabetes not only increases inflammation, but can also reduce the effectiveness of your body's immune system. Circulation can suffer as well, which means that your mouth will have a harder time fighting off the bacteria involved in the gum disease.

One critical thing to note is that while diabetes puts you at risk for gum disease, gum disease may also put you at risk for diabetes by affecting blood sugar regulation. So even if you get checked for diabetes and don't have it now, talk to your doctor about strategies for managing this potential diabetes risk.

3. Endometriosis

While gum disease isn't a symptom of endometriosis, one study did show  that endometriosis can increase your risk of gum disease by 57%. If you have gum problems and have a history of pelvic pain (including painful periods, which are not normal), you should talk to your gynecologist about the possibility of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a chronic condition, but treatments are available as well as selfcare that you can use once you know what's going on.

4. High Stress Load

Even if none of the other health issues listed here apply to you, you more than likely lead a stressful life. If you've been piling on the commitments or going through a rough stretch in your life, the effects could show up in your health and body in numerous ways.

In addition to causing painfully tense shoulders, tension headaches, and anxiety or depression, a high-stress life can also cause serious health issues. These include blood pressure problems, heart disease, and even dental problems.

Like sleep apnea, excess stress can bring on bruxism, which can lead to gum disease. But you may also clench your jaw throughout the day if you're stressed, which means that your gums are constantly under pressure. Stress can even make your immune response less effective, so your body has a harder time fighting off gum disease bacteria.

These are just four overall health issues that you might want to ask your doctor about if your gums suddenly develop gingivitis for seemingly no reason. If any of these health issues sound like something that could be affecting you, your doctor or dentist can help you screen for them and take any treatment steps necessary.

But whether you any associated health issues or not, you'll need to treat your gum problems immediately if you want to avoid advancing to periodontitis.

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