Bleeding Gums

 1 Definition of Bleeding Gums
 2 Causes of Bleeding Gums
 3 Signs and Symptoms of Bleeding Gums
 4 Dangers and Health Risks of Bleeding Gums
       i.   Underlying Gum Issues and Conditions
       ii.  Association With Systemic Health Concerns
 5 How to Prevent Bleeding Gums
 6 Treatments for Bleeding Gums
       i.  Conventional Treatment
       ii.  Home Remedies
       iii. Essential Oils
 7 Your Questions About Bleeding Gums Answered
 8 References

Definition of Bleeding Gums

Dental surgery
Excessive gum bleeding is a signal from your body to let you know that something is wrong. Gums in an unhealthy mouth will typically bleed when brushed along the margin of the gums or during flossing. In some cases, gums will also bleed when you’re smiling or doing nothing at all Bleeding gums are a symptom of an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. Whether it’s gum disease or diabetes, bleeding gums need to be assessed and cared for to prevent further complications.

Causes of Bleeding Gums

What causes bleeding gums? While there can be various explanations for bleeding gums, the majority of the time the bleeding is due to an underlying bacterial 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.
When proper dental hygiene is not practiced, bacteria in the mouth can easily grow out of control. When this happens, the bacteria forms plaque, and eventually tartar. This will cause inflammation of the gums, along with swelling and bleeding. Bleeding can also occur as a result of improper flossing. Be careful to allow the floss to slide along the natural curves of the teeth, and do not force it.

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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 Gums

Bleeding 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, bacteria buildup below the gums may cause your gums to bleed each time you brush. This can also spread along the gumlines 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
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Destruction of gum tissues
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth loss

Dangers And Health Risks of Bleeding Gums

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With gums that bleed, there is much more to consider than just the pain or discomfort associated with the bleeding itself. Even though that is enough for most people to be concerned with, there are many other ill effects that can take place after bleeding has begun if it is related to gum disease. If there is a passageway for blood to exit your tissue, it makes sense that there would be a way for other things to enter the bloodstream. If this is the case, harmful bacteria that are formed in the mouth can gain access to your bloodstream and cause a number of problems. These bacteria can bond to platelets in the blood and cause clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. If this happens, then a whole host of potential health effects can occur. Some of the dangers that can eventually take place are digestive system disorders, respiratory dysfunction, elevated risk for heart attack, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, premature births, underweight newborns and increased risk for stroke.

Underlying Gum Issues/Conditions Bleeding is a sign of infection and is usually associated with gingivitis or gum disease. When left untreated, gum disease can and often does lead to:
  • Bad breath
  • Gum recession
  • Bone loss
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss
Association With Systemic Health Concerns When the gums bleed they allow plaque from your mouth to travel through the body to other areas. This places an increased strain on your immune system and makes it more difficult to treat other conditions. Systemic diseases that are often associated with gum infections include:
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Premature birth
  • Erectile dysfunction
...and many more In rare cases, bleeding gums can also be a symptom of underlying diseases or other systemic health conditions ranging from anything such as anemia to leukemia. If your bleeding gums don’t improve, please seek medical attention.  
The best way to prevent bleeding gums is to have exceptional oral hygiene practices that include flossing each day and brushing twice a day for two minutes. It can also include other preventive measures such as over-the-counter or herbal mouth rinses. To kill the bacteria that lead to common problems such as bleeding gums, use a daily oral hygiene program along with a 100% pure botanical toothpaste. Click here to try OraMD. Gums will only bleed when there is an infection or an underlying condition that needs your attention. Here are some other common dental problems.

A healthy diet and lifestyle can improve your immune system and reduce the likelihood of bleeding gums or other oral infections. Include plenty of vitamin C and calcium. Drink plenty of water. Drinking water after eating can help wash food of your teeth and make it less likely for bacteria to form gum-damaging plaque. Be cautious about extremely hot or cold foods and beverages. You may find that lukewarm or cool foods and beverages are the most comfortable to consume if you are experiencing gum problems.

Do not use tobacco products. Relax. Stress can raise hormone levels which can increase the likelihood of inflammation throughout your entire body, including the gums.  

Treatments for Bleeding Gums

Conventional 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.

Home Remedies Home remedies for bleeding gums are the best answer, as any dentist will tell you. The most important aspect is to keep your mouth clean and free of plaque on a daily basis.

To treat bleeding gums you should follow the exact treatment regimen for conditions like gingivitis.

The use of essential oils can be useful for gum inflammation or other symptoms of infected gums.[2.]  It may also be wise to take an iron supplement in the case that you are anemic, which can lead to even more bleeding gums.  

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Your Questions About Bleeding Gums Answered

My 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.

I get bleeding gums when brushing my teeth. What should I do? If your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, it typically means that you are not removing all of the bacteria on a regular (daily) basis and it has resulted in a gum infection.

I’m pregnant and have bleeding gums. Is this okay? It can be very normal for pregnant women to suffer from bleeding gums throughout their pregnancy. Even with dedicated oral hygiene, your hormone levels may contribute to this condition. However, if you were suffering from bleeding gums before your pregnancy, or your bleeding is also associated with bad breath or swelling, you are likely suffering from a gum infection.

Is there a toothpaste for bleeding gums? Toothpastes are typically for aiding in plaque removal, help prevent future tartar buildup, and fresher breath. Most toothpastes are not formulated to specifically treat bleeding gums. However, there is a combination of three botanical ingredients that were shown in a recent University of Kentucky study to kill the harmful bacteria that lead to gum problems. Click here to learn more.

Is there a mouthwash for bleeding gums? Some over-the-counter mouthwash products can help treat the symptoms of bleeding gums, or your dentist may prescribe a strong mouthwash to reduce infection. Mouthwash may not be the full answer as it usually targets the area above the gums rather than the infected area below them that is causing the bleeding. Many over-the-counter mouthwash products also contain alcohol and sting when they are used. Also, dry mouth exacerbates bacteria problems. A better approach would be to use a combination toothpaste/mouthwash with no alcohol or potentially harmful ingredients. Click here to learn more.

My gums bleed even though I think I brush good enough. Why? You may have underlying tartar buildup or old dental fillings that are harboring bacteria.

I don’t want to floss. What else can I do to help the bleeding areas between my teeth? Consider using a water flosser. Water flossers are effective and efficient when it comes to daily oral hygiene for areas deep below the gums or between your teeth.

Is there a toothbrush for bleeding gums? Electric toothbrushes can be much better than manual brushes for keeping your mouth healthy


 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

[3. 3. Barnes CM, Russell CM, Reinhardt RA, Payne JB, Lyle DM. Comparison Of Irrigation To Floss As An Adjunct To Tooth Brushing: Effect On Bleeding, Gingivitis, And Supragingival Plaque.; J Clin Dent. 2005;16(3):71-7.]
[4. 4. Moritis K, Jenkins W, Hefti A, Schmitt P, McGrady M.A Randomized, Parallel Design Study To Evaluate The Effects Of A Sonicare And A Manual Toothbrush On Plaque And Gingivitis.; J Clin Dent. 2008;19(2):64-8.]They clean more efficiently and help oxygenate the area along the gums to destroy bacteria.  

Article Name: Bleeding Gums
Description: Bleeding gums is usually a warning sign of a more serious problem, gingivitis (also known as gum disease). Bleeding gums is treatable, but not with ordinary toothpastes and mouthwashes. The problem begins when periodontal bacteria goes beneath the gum line, where it makes cleaning difficult.
Author: Sharon Boyd
Trusted Health Products, Inc.

Sharon Boyd

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.

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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. Website / Linked In / Instagram






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