It's a scenario that could make any parent squeamish; your child finishes brushing his or her teeth, and you notice some blood on the bristles. Although this discovery can be alarming for both you and your child, it is usually nothing to panic over and can often be resolved at home or by a family dentistry practitioner. By understanding what causes bleeding gums in children and how to correct it, you can set your child back on track for a lifetime of excellent oral health.
Brushing Too Vigorously
If you are still helping your child brush his or her teeth, you may simply be applying too much pressure to the floss or toothbrush. This can be especially tricky when paired with gingivitis, which already makes your child's gums more prone to bleeding. Double check with your child that flossing and brushing doesn't hurt, and if it does, take a gentler approach until they have had time to heal.
Poor Flossing and Brushing Habits
Children sometimes fib about their brushing habits, and they may tell you they have brushed and flossed when they really haven't. When this is allowed to go on long enough, gingivitis can develop just like in adults. Children tend to be more resistant to gum disease than their parents, and flossing and brushing regularly for one or two weeks is usually enough to reverse the damage. Reinforcing the importance of good dental hygiene can help prevent this problem in the future.
If your child is only bleeding from the gums in his or her upper jaw, you could be dealing with dehydration. This is particularly common in children who breathe through their mouths, either during the day or while they are sleeping. Encourage greater water intake to offset the drying effect of mouth breathing. Vaseline smeared over the gums at night can also help relieve this issue.
Children with short upper lips may have trouble keeping their mouths closed due to malocclusion, or a bite misalignment. Teeth that do not match up correctly can cause a number of additional health problems, including difficulty speaking and eating, and may be the result of pacifier use or thumb-sucking. This situation may or may not resolve itself when your child's adult teeth grow in, and it can also be permanently fixed with temporary orthodontics.
Other Medical Disorders
After exploring every other possibility with no success, schedule an appointment with your family dentist to have the problem formally diagnosed. Although rare, bleeding gums may be a symptom of more serious conditions such as leukemia or a blood clotting disorder. In all likelihood, however, your child is simply experiencing a small hiccup in his or her dental health, which can be remedied through a simple dental or practicing stronger daily oral hygiene.