How to Keep Your Gums from Bleeding at the Dentist

I mean no offense to the dental professionals out there, but let’s be honest: few people love visiting their dentist. While drilling, root canals and the speech-slurring effects of anesthetics top the list of reasons why people avoid making the trek to the dentist, bleeding gums are also annoying and uncomfortable. A gentle hand by your dentist or oral hygienist can go a long way to help you avoid bleeding gums, but you can also take other measures to help prevent bleeding gums.

Bleeding gums are often a sign of a vitamin C deficiency. We often associate vitamin C deficiencies to Christopher Columbus-era voyages and the scurvy that killed many men on the ships of the time. But, scurvy is a severe deficiency and there are many levels of vitamin C deficiency on a spectrum. Gums that bleed easily are among the first signs of a vitamin C deficiency.

Other early symptoms can include: fatigue, weakness, bruising easily, irritability or poor mood, slow healing, frequently catching cold or flu viruses or other infections, or taking a long time to overcome them. More severe signs of a vitamin C deficiency include: bumpy skin on the backs of arms or buttocks (known as keratosis pilaris), bright red hair follicles, concave nails (spoon-shaped) with red spots or lines, dry or damaged skin, leg sores that take a long time to heal, swollen or painful joints, weak bones, tooth loss, persistent iron-deficiency anemia, unexplained weight gain and chronic inflammation

While many people, including some health professionals, believe that vitamin C deficiency is rare, I believe that it is far more common than people think. While severe vitamin C deficiency, such as full-blown scurvy may be rare, early deficiency symptoms of vitamin C deficiency seem to be quite common. In my more than 25 years as a nutritionist I can say with confidence that low-grade vitamin C deficiencies are commonplace and that many people benefit from increasing the amount of vitamin C-rich foods in their diet or supplementing with ascorbic acid (vitamin C).


Foods Rich in Vitamin C:

There are many great foods rich in vitamin C, including:

-Guava

-Black currants

-Red peppers

-Kiwi

-Lychee

-Lemons

-Oranges

-Strawberries

-Papayas

-Broccoli

-Parsley

Because vitamin C is water-soluble and vulnerable to heat, it is quickly destroyed when foods are cooked, or when they are placed in or cooked in water, such as soaked in water to wash, or boiled. Ideally, eat the above fruits and vegetables raw to obtain the maximum amount of vitamin C from each.

Supplementing with Vitamin C

If you’re already experiencing bleeding gums you’ll probably benefit from vitamin C supplements, alongside a vitamin C-rich diet. And, it usually takes following both of these approaches for at least a couple of months to obtain results, particularly if you are severely deficient in vitamin C. While there are many types of vitamin C available, including ascorbic acid and calcium ascorbate, it seems that ascorbic acid is better absorbed since it is not buffered to calcium.

Make Sure to Get Bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids, especially rutin, are needed to ensure absorption of vitamin C. In other words, you can eat a high vitamin C diet or supplement with the nutrient but not absorb enough if you don’t also get adequate amounts of bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids, and rutin in particular, are found in the pith (the white, spongy part) of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit, so be sure to eat some of the pith with these fruits. Fortunately, many vitamin C-rich foods also contain rutin to help with their absorption. In addition to citrus fruits, some of the foods highest in rutin include: apricots, blackberries, broccoli, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts and other nuts.

Addressing Bleeding Gums

Vitamin C and bioflavonoids work to strengthen the blood vessels, including capillaries, that can otherwise become damaged and begin to bleed at the dentist. In addition to eating foods high in these nutrients and/or supplementing with vitamin C, you may also find it helpful to gently floss regularly to help strengthen your gums. Following these simple practices can help you avoid bleeding gums at your next visit to the dentist.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada and Scentsational Wellness, and a best-selling and 20-time book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your LifeFollow her work.

51 comments

Thomas M
Thomas M3 days ago

Thanks for posting

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Paulo R
Paulo Reeson8 days ago

ty

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Greta L
Greta L8 days ago

tyfs

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Lisa M
Lisa M9 days ago

I have never had this problem.

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Val P
Val P9 days ago

interesting

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Danuta W
Danuta W9 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Madison I
Madison Idso10 days ago

When I floss regularly my gums stop bleeding. I recommend daily flossing because without healthy gums your teeth fall out.

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Janis K
Janis K10 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Ruth S
Ruth S10 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S10 days ago

I notice when I don't floss regularly that my gums bleed easier. My Dentist also said not flossing can cause gums to bleed.

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