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Why Do My Gums Bleed When I Brush My Teeth?

Do Your Gums Ever Bleed When You Brush? This Dentist's Explanation Is Unexpected

There are many reasons your gums might bleed or feel sore when you brush your teeth. It might be that you've gotten just a little too aggressive with those bristles or while flossing. Other times, it can be a symptom of something more serious such as gingivitis. But bleeding gums might also be a product of something a bit more surprising: hormones.

I began noticing a couple years ago that during my period, my gums become much more sensitive and swollen and that they often bleed more easily while brushing. Confused and concerned, I decided to reach out to a dentist to help me better understand the connection between my mouth and what's taking place elsewhere in my body.

"Hormones such as estrogen and progesterone that are elevated during menstruation and pregnancy cause an increase in blood flow to the gums," said Erica Heller, DDS, a cosmetic and general dentist in New York City. "The increase in blood flow causes the gums to become more sensitive to dental plaque and become swollen, sensitive, and bleed."

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Fortunately, there are simple ways to alleviate and prevent this. If your gums get very inflamed and bleed during your period or pregnancy, Dr. Heller recommends you get a professional cleaning every four months, instead of the standard six. In addition to frequent professional cleanings by your dentist, it's important to practice good dental hygiene at home. This routine should include brushing your teeth twice each day, flossing at least once daily (there are methods beyond traditional floss, if that's not your thing), and becoming aware of harmful foods and drinks that could potentially damage your smile. Your gums will be in better shape in no time!

Image Source: Getty / Duane Osborn
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