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Bleeding Gums: Causes and Treatment

What You Need to Know About Bleeding Gums

Dental causes | Other causes | Treatment | Takeaway

What are bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums are the most common symptom of gum disease. But it can also point to other health problems.

Occasional bleeding of the gums can be caused by brushing your teeth too vigorously or wearing dentures that don’t fit correctly. Frequent gum bleeding can also indicate more serious conditions, including:

  • periodontitis (an advanced form of gum disease)
  • leukemia (cancer of the blood)
  • vitamin deficiency
  • lack of clotting cells (platelets)

Dental conditions that can cause bleeding gums

Dental care issues are the primary cause of bleeding gums. Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis make your gums sensitive and prone to bleeding.


Most people develop gingivitis when plaque stays on gum lines too long. Plaque refers to the debris and bacteria that stick to your teeth.

Brushing your teeth removes plaque and can prevent you from developing cavities (dental caries). But plaque may stay on your gum line, if you don’t brush and floss properly.

If plaque isn’t removed it can harden into tartar (calculus), which will increase bleeding. The accumulation of plaque near your gums can also cause gingivitis.

Symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • puffy gums
  • soreness in the mouth and around the gums
  • bleeding gums


Periodontal disease (periodontitis) can occur when gingivitis becomes advanced. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, jawbone, and supportive tissues that connect your teeth and gums. Periodontitis can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out.

Vitamin deficiencies

Vitamin C and vitamin K deficiencies can also cause gums to bleed easily.

Ask your doctor to check your levels of vitamins C and K if you have bleeding gums that aren’t caused by improper dental care. Also, follow a diet that contains both nutrients to ensure you’re getting the vitamins you need to stay healthy.

Foods rich in vitamin C include:

  • citrus fruits and juices
  • broccoli
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • bell peppers

Foods rich in vitamin K include:

  • watercress
  • kale
  • spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • lettuce
  • mustard greens
  • soybeans
  • canola oil
  • olive oil

Other causes of bleeding gums

People who wear dentures also may sometimes experience bleeding gums. This is more likely when dentures fit too tightly.

Talk to your dentist or orthodontist if dentures or other oral appliances are causing your gums to bleed. They may need to take new impressions to create a better fitting mouthpiece.

Pregnancy commonly causes increased gum bleeding. Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause the gums to be more sensitive as well.

Bleeding disorders like hemophilia and leukemia can also increase your risk of bleeding gums. Your gums might bleed more often if you take blood-thinning medications. Drugs in this class include warfarin, aspirin, and heparin.

Treatment of bleeding gums

Good dental hygiene is the first step to managing bleeding gums.

Visit your dental hygienist as recommended for a professional cleaning. Your hygienist will let you know if you have gingivitis and teach you how to brush your teeth properly. Proper brushing and flossing can remove plaque from your gum line and reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

Your hygienist may also show you how to use an antiseptic mouthwash to minimize plaque that forms in your mouth. Warm salt water rinses can also help soothe swollen gums that bleed easily.

Use a soft or extra-soft toothbrush. It’ll be gentle on inflamed gums, especially if you experience bleeding after brushing your teeth. Medium and hard bristles are often too abrasive for your delicate gums.

You might also consider using an electric toothbrush. The specially designed brush heads on these toothbrushes can help you clean your gum line more easily than with a manual toothbrush.

The Takeaway

While bleeding gums are the most common symptom of dental issues, other issues might be the cause.

Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to determine whether dental health is the underlying issue causing your bleeding gums. A physical examination and blood work can help determine the cause of your bleeding. Treatment will vary according to your condition.

Common Questions & Answers

What are bleeding gums a sign of?

Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, or inflammation of your gums. It’s a common and mild form of gum disease, and it’s caused by a buildup of plaque at your gum line. If you have gingivitis, your gums may be irritated, red, and swollen. They may bleed when you brush your teeth.

How do you fix bleeding gums?

10 Ways to Stop Bleeding Gums

  1. Practice good oral hygiene. Come for regular teeth cleanings. Many patients are recommended to come 2-4 times per year depending on their periodontal status. Bleeding gums may be a sign of poor dental hygiene.
  2. Rinse your mouth with 1% hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Stop smoking.
  4. Reduce your stress level.
  5. Increase your intake of vitamin C.
  6. Increase your intake of vitamin K.
  7. Rinse with salt water.
  8. Eat fewer carbs.
  9. Floss regularly
  10. Try using a power toothbrush instead of a manual one.

Are bleeding gums dangerous?

Gum bleeding is common and is typically not serious. A person may notice some blood after brushing their teeth or flossing, which can irritate sensitive, inflamed gums. The most common reason a person’s gums bleed is because of plaque or tartar buildup. These substances allow bacteria to grow along the gum line. A dental hygienist can help by removing this tartar buildup during dental scaling.

Why are my gums bleeding for no reason?

You may have gum disease such as gingivitis (also known as inflammation of the gums). Another possibility is that you have a problem with your blood clotting. You can have your teeth and gums examined and cleaned. If you have gum disease such as gingivitis, then this may be the cause of your bleeding.

Trusted Sources and Resources

How to Stop Bleeding Gums: 10 Methods to Try – Healthline

What Diseases Could Cause My Gums to Bleed? – WebMD

Gum Problems: Bleeding, Swollen, and Sore Gums – WebMD

How to stop bleeding gums at home: 12 ways

5 Things You Can Do if Your Gums Are Bleeding | Colgate

Bleeding gums: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Bleeding of Gums – American Dental Association – MouthHealthy

Medical Disclaimer

When in doubt, check it out

If you’re unsure of your health status, have multiple health problems or are pregnant, speak with your doctor before starting a new dental procedure. Working with your doctor ahead of time can help you plan the medical/dental treatment that’s right for you. And that’s a good first step on your path to oral health.

Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of something you have read on the Sherwood Dental website.

Reviewed By

Dr. Rakesh Patel B.Sc., DDS on April 1, 2020