Written By Sharon Boyd, RDH, BS. | Reviewed by Lara T. Coseo, DDS
What are Bleeding Gums
What Causes Bleeding GumsWhat causes bleeding gums? While there can be various explanations for bleeding gums, the majority of the time the bleeding is due to an underlying germ infection along the gum lines. To prevent the primary cause of bleeding gums you need to have excellent oral hygiene. Even if you think you’re already taking good care of your teeth, healthy gums aren’t supposed to bleed. Reassess your home care routine to determine that this isn’t what’s causing your bleeding gums.
Other causes of bleeding gums include:
- Anemia - This iron deficiency blood condition can cause excess gum bleeding due to the inability of the blood to clot.
- Higher Hormone Level Due to Pregnancy - Women that are pregnant often see bleeding gums due to a spike in their hormone levels. Even with good oral hygiene, gums may continue to bleed. Many women will also find that problems with their gums and oral health occur during the times of puberty, menstruation, and menopause. Hormone increases during these times can increase the flow of blood to the gums, which can make them red, swollen and tender. Some women are more likely to see swollen, bleeding gums prior to each menstrual period with the symptoms subsiding once the period has begun. During pregnancy, swollen and bleeding gums typically begin around the third month and last through the eighth. The most uncommon of these hormonal causes takes place during menopause, in which women frequently complain of a dryer sensation in the mouth that can result in swelling, soreness and bleeding.
- Cancer Treatment - Radiation or chemotherapy drugs may cause irritation of the gums, including raw, red, bleeding gums. Leukemia can cause bleeding in numerous areas of the body, including the gums. It affects the body's blood forming tissues, including the lymphatic system and bone marrow. Many people who undergo chemotherapy to treat cancer experience stomatitis, which means inflammation of the mouth. This can cause the development of sores and mouth ulcers on the gums, which can bleed.
- Prescription Medication/Aspirin - Certain medications cause a thinning of the blood, causing people to bleed easier.
- Systemic Conditions Or Diseases - Diseases like leukemia or other conditions may be associated with bleeding gums. If you are experiencing other symptoms throughout your body it is likely the bleeding may be associated with those. For instance, people with uncontrolled diabetes also often suffer from uncontrolled gum disease.
Signs And Symptoms of Bleeding GumsBleeding gums typically come on very quickly and usually only bleed during brushing and flossing. In cases of severe gum disease, your gums may bleed sporadically, even if you’re just smiling. Gums should not bleed if you brush and floss properly on a regular basis. If you aren’t a routine flosser, germs buildup below the gums may cause your gums to bleed each time you brush. This can also spread along the gum lines and bleed when you brush your gums. If treatment is delayed, the bleeding usually worsens. Gum swelling, red gums or sore gums may also accompany bleeding. Tooth sensitivity may occur as well, and may be due to gum recession from the infected, bleeding gums. Progression
Bleeding gums are usually a sign that something else is going on in your mouth. Be it a localized area that has an old filling that needs to be replaced, heavy tartar buildup, bone loss or gum disease, bleeding can signal that you need to up your oral hygiene or else see your dentist. When left untreated, bleeding gums that are associated with one of the above conditions can become more problematic. It should be seen as an early warning sign that prevents you from having broken teeth, tooth loss or severe gum disease. Infected gums usually begin with bleeding, but can easily progress into:
- Gum recession
- Gum swelling
- Destruction of gum tissues
- Bone loss
- Tooth loss
Dangers And Health Risks of Bleeding Gums
- Bad breath
- Gum recession
- Bone loss
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Heart attack
- Premature birth
- Erectile dysfunction
Treatments for Bleeding GumsConventional Treatment Bleeding gums are commonly associated with tartar buildup, excess plaque on the teeth and poor oral hygiene. Because of this, routine preventive visits to your dentist can help you get your mouth cleaned thoroughly and put you back on track. Your dentist may also recommend a prescription mouthwash or fluoride to reduce the symptoms. Cleanings typically cost around $100 with prescriptions around $20.
Your Questions About Bleeding Gums AnsweredMy gums are bleeding. Is this normal? Bleeding gums are not normal. When your gums bleed it is a sign that there is an underlying condition such as infection or disease.
Are bleeding gums normal? It’s never normal or healthy for gums to bleed. As with any other part of your body, bleeding should alert you to some type of injury or infection that requires attention. If your gums bleed, there’s a reason why.
How can I stop bleeding gums immediately? It’s impossible to get gums to immediately stop bleeding. In most cases, good oral hygiene and extra cleaning in those areas will help stop your gums from bleeding after a couple of weeks.
How can I stop bleeding gums naturally? Physically removing plaque biofilm and keeping your gums clean is essential to stop bleeding. Incorporating products that contain essential oils can help to control germs levels. Daily brushing and proper flossing are crucial.
Does bleeding gums mean I have some kind of infection? Yes. Healthy gums do not bleed. The bleeding is because of inflammation and tissue deterioration in those areas. However, certain medical conditions such as anemia may make your gums more prone to bleeding.
What causes a child’s bleeding gums? Children may not have the best dexterity to thoroughly clean their teeth and gums. As a result, it’s easy for them to develop gingivitis, which in turn leads to bleeding.
Are bleeding gums normal for teething babies? Not usually. In most cases the gum tissue thins out over a slower period of time, creating an opening for the tooth to come through. Although soreness and extra saliva are common symptoms with teething, bleeding is not.
Are bleeding gums always a sign of gingivitis? Usually. But bleeding gums can also be attributed to injuries, oral surgery, and aggressive gum disease. If you have gums that bleed, you probably have some form of gingivitis.
Should you brush if you have bleeding gums? Absolutely. In fact, not brushing them can allow the infection and bleeding to get worse. Just be aware that your gums will tend to bleed more heavily when you’re brushing at first, before the germ levels and inflammation start to improve.
Did I get bleeding gums from brushing too hard? This usually isn’t the case. It would take extreme force and incorrect flossing to cause enough damage to make healthy gums bleed. But if you don’t floss daily, your gums will probably bleed every time you floss (because of infection just under the gum lines.)
Does it matter which gums are bleeding? No. Bleeding gums require attention regardless of what part of your mouth is affected. Since gum infections can spread tooth to tooth, it’s best to catch them early. Be aware of bleeding around dental implants or bridges, as the infection could cause your restoration to fail.
Can gums bleed in the morning and at night? Gums will bleed any time that an infected area is physically stimulated. Since most people brush at morning and night, you’ll likely see more bleeding during those times of the day.
Why do they bleed when I floss? Most people don’t floss often enough. As a result, plaque accumulates between teeth and under the gums, leading to gingivitis. The next time you floss, that inflamed and highly vascular area will bleed. That’s why so many people tend to assume the floss is causing the bleeding, when in reality it’s the lack of it.
Why do my gums bleed when vaping? People who vape or smoke will almost always notice tissue changes inside of their mouth. Your gums could tend to dry out and feel rougher than normal, or they may become inflamed because of heat or chemical burns. The constant cellular turnover in vaping or smoking thus increases your risk of oral cancer.
Did a deficiency cause bleeding gums? We know that iron deficiency (anemia) can increase bleeding gums in individuals who have good oral hygiene. Other symptoms include pale colored gums. If anemia is suspected, it’s essential to adjust your diet or supplements to increase your iron intake.
Did cavities cause my bleeding gums? If you have a cavity that’s close to your gums, that area is thriving with live germs. As a result, it’s only natural for the gums to be more irritated next to the decay. Usually gum infections start before cavities, so it could actually be the other way around.
Did gum disease cause my gums to bleed? Bleeding gums are usually one of the earliest signs of gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease. Aggressive stages include moderate to severe periodontitis (periodontal disease) which usually result in heavy bleeding.
Will bleeding gums just go away? No. As with any active infection on or in your body, care is necessary to eliminate the germs that is causing the bleeding. For bleeding gums, treatment usually means improved home care and a professional cleaning.
When will they stop bleeding? Once all of the soft and hard germs are removed from your teeth and gums, and as long as you’re brushing and flossing properly each day, you can expect bleeding gums to go away in about two weeks.
Will bleeding gums heal? Yes. Bleeding just means that germs is present. As long as the area is cleaned properly, your gums can heal and stop bleeding. But it will usually take at least two weeks of daily home care before you see the bleeding stop.
Can bleeding gums be cured? Yes. Gingivitis with bleeding gums can be reversible and treated easily as long as you catch it early enough. In most cases the cure is as simple as better brushing and flossing (and sometimes a teeth cleaning!)
What toothpaste should I use for bleeding gum? The type of toothpaste that you use isn’t as important as to how well you’re physically maneuvering your toothbrush. Spending enough time along the gums is essential. But adding in a toothpaste that’s formulated for gingivitis can help!
Which mouthwash should I use for bleeding gums? Always choose a mouthwash that contains essential oils, as those ingredients are naturally beneficial to swollen and bleeding gums. Try to avoid rinses that contain alcohol, as they can dry and burn sensitive tissues.
How do you stop bleeding gums after surgery? Bleeding gums are normal if you’ve had an oral surgery such as a wisdom tooth extraction. Be sure to get plenty of rest and follow your home care instructions so that the blood clot isn’t dislodged. If there is heavy bleeding, apply moderate pressure with a sterile piece of gauze (usually provided by your dentist.) If bleeding doesn’t improve, call your dental provider.
Are bleeding gums normal during pregnancy? Actually, yes! It’s common for women to experience “pregnancy gingivitis” even if they’ve always had a relatively healthy mouth. Symptoms include minor swelling and bleeding. Anything more serious could be gum disease.
Are bleeding gums a symptom of pregnancy? Bleeding gums are not an early sign of pregnancy, but it is common for some women to experience bleeding gums during hormonal changes (such as menses and later on in pregnancy.) It’s important to note that aggressive gum infections could jeopardize your prenatal health.
Are they a sign of going into labor? No. But having active gum disease (periodontitis) can increase your risk of premature labor, preeclampsia, and low birth weight in infants. So if you have bleeding gums while you’re pregnant, you need to treat them as soon as possible.
Is bleeding gums normal if you have braces? It can be easier to get bleeding gums if you’re in braces, because of all of the extra surfaces that plaque adheres to. Some people also have metal sensitivities, causing their gums to be more prone to inflammation. With appropriate home care (brushing and flossing) you can prevent your gums from bleeding while you wear braces.
Are bleeding gums bad? It’s not a good thing to have bleeding gums. Depending on the severity of bleeding and inflammation, you might have easily reversible gingivitis or a more aggressive form of periodontal disease. Both are bad, but periodontitis is worse.
Are bleeding gums dangerous? Sort of. If your bleeding is because of periodontal disease or aggressive gum infection it can significantly raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and pneumonia, all of which can be life threatening.
Are bleeding gums contagious? Not technically. Bleeding gums are because of infected tissues. But if you have gum disease, it’s possible to spread that germs to someone else by kissing or sharing food. If they don’t have good oral hygiene, that germs could take root and contribute to an infection.
Is bleeding gums reversible? Yes, as long as you intervene early enough. Gingivitis causes the first signs of bleeding and can usually be reversed within about two weeks of daily brushing and flossing. But more advanced gum disease can’t be reversed or treated without professional care and cleanings.
Are gum disease a sign of diabetes? People with diabetes are more prone to gum disease, and vice versa. Stabilizing your gum health (including bleeding and swelling) can help you get better control over your blood glucose levels. Treating the two conditions should go hand in hand.
Is bleeding gums a sign of heart disease? Having active gum infections statistically raises your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attack. Why? Because the germs in your mouth spread into your bloodstream when there’s active bleeding and infection.
Are bleeding gums a sign of early pregnancy? Some women experience increased gum swelling and bleeding as part of normal hormonal changes. But bleeding gums isn’t a classic sign of pregnancy. In fact, having bleeding gums can raise your chances of a premature labor.
Are bleeding gums a sign of HIV? Yes. Immunodeficiencies like HIV/AIDS can present themselves as aggressive oral infections, including an increase in swelling, bleeding, and periodontal disease.
Are bleeding gums a sign of leukemia? Yes. People with leukemia tend to experience bleeding disorders which can include gums bleeding for no apparent reason other than physical stimulation (like brushing and flossing.)
Are bleeding gums a sign of cancer? If you have cancer, you may notice your gums bleeding more than normal. Since your immune system is compromised, your body is more prone to infections like gingivitis.
Are bleeding gums a sign of liver disease? Liver damage and disease can lead to bleeding problems which include things like nose bleeds and bleeding gums. If you know you have cirrhosis of the liver or liver disease, be sure to let your dentist know.
Can bleeding gums kill you? Bleeding gums don’t kill anyone, but they can contribute to life-threatening conditions like pneumonia or heart disease, which can. If your oral infection is severe enough, the germs can spread from your bleeding gums into your bloodstream, or even be inhaled into your airway.
Will bleeding gums make you nauseous? It’s common to feel nauseous if you swallow too much blood, such as after an oral surgery or wisdom tooth extraction. But mild gingivitis won’t lead to nausea and vomiting.
Are bleeding gums always a bad sign? Yes. If your gums are bleeding, pay attention. Either there’s a germs infection going on inside of your mouth, or an underlying health condition is contributing to irregular bleeding.
Does bleeding gums cause anemia? No, but it can be the other way around. People with anemia tend to have gums that look healthy but are slightly pale in color and bleed easily when they brush and floss. Be sure to stay on top of your oral care, cleanings, and up your iron intake.
Do bleeding gums cause blood in the stool? Only severe, uncontrolled bleeding that’s ingested – such as during or after an oral surgery – has the potential to cause blood in the stool. But usually, nausea and vomiting occur before the blood is digested. If you have blood in your stool, alert your medical doctor.
Do bleeding gums cause blood in the urine? No. If you have blood in your urine, alert your medical professional.
Do bleeding gums cause high blood pressure? Since gum disease and cardiovascular disease often coexist and make the other condition worse, it’s normal to experience high blood pressure if you have a chronic gum infection. Consequently, treating your dental infection can help manage your heart health!
Can bleeding gums make you sick? Bleeding gums drain your immune system by causing it to work overtime. When your body is constantly responding to infection, it isn’t able to manage other coexisting health conditions. So, if you have moderate to severe gum disease (with bleeding) you might be more prone to other health problems.
Can bleeding gums stain your teeth? Bleeding gums don’t cause tooth stain. But if you have tartar buildup and plaque along your gums (which can cause bleeding) there could be stain particles within the buildup that wind up soaking into your tooth enamel.
Can bleeding gums cause bad breath? Sort of. Since bleeding gums are caused by gum disease and gum disease can cause halitosis (bad breath) you’ll often see the two conditions together. If you treat your bleeding gums and inflammation, you’ll also see your bad breath start to improve.
Can bleeding gums cause a sore throat? Not typically. Gum infections with bleeding tend to be localized to immediately around the tooth. Any type of germs or viral infection that causes a sore throat is usually a separate condition.
Can bleeding gums cause headaches? No. The only time you would see a headache related to bleeding gums is if there’s a severe injury, infection, or surgical site that’s in the back of your mouth or where the pain is radiating into other areas of your face. The chances are quite low!
Can bleeding gums cause stomach problems? Unless you’re ingesting large amounts of blood such as what you might see following an oral surgery or wisdom tooth clot coming out, then probably not.
Can bleeding gums cause tooth loss? Yes. Bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease, which involves deterioration of the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. If not treated early enough, gum infections will lead to tooth mobility and loss.
Can bleeding gums cause sepsis? Not likely. But if you have a severe oral infection and there’s active bleeding inside of your mouth, it’s not out of the question.
Can bleeding gums cause dry mouth? No. Dry mouth is due to a lack of saliva production, certain types of medication, or habits like smoking. It isn’t related to whether or not your gums are bleeding.
Can you get bleeding gums when you break a fast? No. If you’re fasting or on a certain type of diet, it shouldn’t have anything to do with making your gums bleed. Bleeding gums are caused by infection and germs settling around your teeth and inefficient oral hygiene.
Can you take ibuprofen if you have bleeding gums? If your medical provider has cleared you to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or Motrin, you may do so for occasional pain relief. However, ibuprofen should not be used as a treatment method for bleeding gums. If your gums are so sore that you require medication, you need to see a dentist. If you have bleeding gums after an oral surgery, do not use aspirin products as these can interfere with clot formation.
How do you stop bleeding gums from a cut? Apply firm pressure with a clean tissue or gauze, changing it out as it becomes saturated. If bleeding persists, see your dentist to determine if wound care is necessary.
1.Jepsen S, Kebschull M, Deschner J.; Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. (Relationship Between Periodontitis And Systemic Diseases). (Article in German) 2011 Sep;54(9):1089-96.]:
2. Sharma S, Saimbi CS, Koirala B, Shukla R.; Effect Of Various Mouthwashes On The Levels Of Interleukin-2 And Interferon-Gamma In Chronic Gingivitis.; J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2008 Winter;32(2):111-4.]I
Article Written By Sharon Boyd
Sharon has been a Registered Dental Hygienist since 2001. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Relations and Business. In 2011, she began implementing her dental knowledge into freelance writing services that aided dentists, product designers, continuing education providers and web marketing firms for their online and distribution purposes. She has since bridged her services into the medical and cosmetic surgery fields.
Article Reviewed by Dr. Lara Coseo
Lara T. Coseo, DDS, is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry. She has 13 years of experience practicing general dentistry. She currently serves as a part-time faculty instructor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry and writes dental website content and blog material.