Why ‘A Little Pink In The Sink’ Can Be A Big Problem

Most adults have some sort of bacterial infection in their mouths. According to data released by the World Healthcare Organisation (the WHO, a branch of the UN that deals with the health care of the world), some 95% of adults have the bacteria streptococcus mutans and other cavity and periodontitis inducing bacteria in their mouth. This is all fine and well, but these bacteria tend to get out of hand every once in a while. When this happens, you may see some problems. One of these negligible but noteworthy problems is seeing blood when you brush your teeth. 

What causes bleeding gums?

When you hear the phrase ‘bleeding gums’ you may envision a Bruce Willis type scenario, when he gets punched in Die Hard and spits a column of red juice. Usually, gums do not bleed so severely, it will be merely a little ‘pink in the sink’, or your sputum will be slightly tinged with blood. There are two things that can be causing this. The first is brushing too vigorously. If you brush too hard, the bristles on your toothbrush will end up scratching the surface of your gums, causing them to bleed. The more common reason is a bacterial infection, or some kind of developing gum disease. But what causes diseased gums to bleed?

Swollen gums a sign of gum disease

When there is a bacterial infection present, the gums tend to swell. Swollen gums push capillaries in ways that they were not meant to be pushed, and this causes ‘extra capillary action’, meaning blood flow outside of the capillaries. When you brush, the blood in the tissues comes out, it is pressed out of the gum tissues. Sometimes, gums shrivel form bacteria, but the result is the same; the capillaries come closer to the surface and are in an environment that makes them spill. 

Is it an emergency?

While seeing a little pink in the sink during your morning brush may not warrant an immediate call to the emergency dentist right away, this type of infection is the leading cause of the most frequently performed emergency dental treatment, the root canal treatment. Severe periodontitis can cause all sorts of emergency problems, and can even warrant extractions, gum grafts, oral surgery and a whole host of unpleasant procedures. So if you see a little pink in the sink, do not panic, but do book an appointment to your dentist as soon as possible. 

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