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If you find yourself asking, “Why are my gums bleeding?” it may be a sign of gingivitis or plaque buildup.

Gums that bleed easily are a widespread dental issue, potentially indicating neglected oral health or an existing health concern. Sometimes, people with this condition feel discomfort and embarrassment.

This informative article will look into the common reasons for bleeding gums. We will also give tips on stopping it so you can confidently flash your radiant smile.

What Are Bleeding Gums?

Bleeding gums are a sign that your gums are irritated or inflamed, which can often be a symptom of gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). The most common cause of bleeding gums is plaque buildup along the gumline due to inadequate brushing and flossing. This plaque contains bacteria that can infect and damage the gums and teeth.

In the early stages, this condition is called gingivitis, characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss.

Common Bleeding Gums Causes

There are several reasons why your gums might bleed when you brush or floss. Here are some common causes:

1. Gingivitis

This is the first stage of gum disease, caused by an accumulation of plaque at your gum line. If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, this plaque can produce toxins that irritate your gum tissue, leading to gingivitis.

2. Pregnancy Gingivitis

Pregnancy gingivitis is a dental condition that affects many pregnant women and is one of the common causes of bleeding gums. It typically starts in the second month of pregnancy and can last until the eighth month.

This condition occurs due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, particularly an increase in estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal shifts can enhance the response of gum tissues to the bacteria present in plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding, known as gingivitis.

3. Poor Oral Hygiene

Neglecting to brush and floss regularly lets plaque, a sticky bacteria film, accumulate on teeth and gums. This buildup causes inflammation, and subsequently, your gums may bleed.

As dental professionals recommend, brush twice daily and floss once daily. Also, use an appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste that is safe for oral health.

4. Vitamin Deficiencies

You might ask, “What deficiency causes bleeding gums?” The answer is the deficiency of vitamin C and vitamin K.

This vital nutrient is pivotal in collagen production, a vital protein that promotes healthy gum tissues. Insufficient vitamin C affects the oral connective tissues’ strength and resilience, turning them highly vulnerable to bleeding. 

On the other hand, vitamin K plays a crucial role in blood clotting and maintaining strong bones. A deficiency in this vitamin could also result in bleeding gums. Another potential cause could be a deficiency in Vitamin B12, which can increase the risk of periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease. 

5. Hormonal Changes

Aside from pregnancy, menstruation and menopause can lead to hormonal fluctuations in the body. These hormonal changes can result in an escalated risk of bleeding gums. This is because these hormones can impact blood circulation to the gum tissue, enhancing their vulnerability, making them more sensitive, and promoting inflammation. As a result, gums bleed easily, worsening oral health concerns.

6. Certain Medications

Certain medications such as anticoagulants, blood thinners, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, and potent chemotherapy can heighten the risk of developing a condition like bleeding gums. These drugs disrupt the blood clotting process, making it arduous for the oral gum tissue to heal healthily. This interference with the body’s natural healing mechanisms extends the healing duration, which may sometimes lead to constant gum bleeding issues.

7. Brushing Technique

Your brushing technique can contribute to bleeding gums. If you brush too hard, use a toothbrush with hard bristles, or brush incorrectly, it could irritate your gums and cause them to bleed.

When you brush your teeth, the goal is to remove plaque and food particles without causing damage to your teeth or gums. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and applying gentle pressure is typically enough to clean your teeth effectively.

8. Smoking

Smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease, which is a common cause of bleeding gums.

Here’s how it contributes:

  • Decreased Immune Response: Smoking weakens your body’s immune system, making it more difficult to fight a gum infection. Once your gums are damaged, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal.
  • Increased Plaque and Tartar Buildup: The chemicals in tobacco products can affect the saliva flow in the mouth, making it easier for bacteria to stick to teeth and gums. This can lead to an increased buildup of plaque and tartar, irritating the gum line and leading to gum disease.
  • Reduced Blood Flow: Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the gums. This can hide the symptoms of gum disease as it may prevent the gums from bleeding, delaying diagnosis and treatment.
  • Gum Recession: Smoking can lead to gum recession. In this condition, the gum tissue surrounding the teeth wears away or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth’s root. This can increase sensitivity and a higher risk of decay or gum disease.

Smokers experiencing bleeding gums should immediately consult a dentist, who may suggest laser gum treatment as part of their care. Quitting smoking will significantly reduce the risk of developing gum disease and other oral health issues.

How to Stop Bleeding Gums

Here are some tips you can follow to stop bleeding gums:

Rinse Your Mouth With Saltwater

Salt has natural disinfectant properties that can help kill harmful bacteria in the mouth, which could otherwise cause gum disease, leading to bleeding gums.

To prepare a saltwater rinse:

  • Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with the solution for about 30 seconds before spitting it out.

This can be done two to three times a day until symptoms improve. However, remember that while this can provide temporary relief, it’s not a substitute for proper oral hygiene or regular dental checkups.

Apply a Cold Compress

Applying a cold compress to your gums can help reduce swelling and stop bleeding. However, remember that this is only a temporary solution and should not replace proper dental care.

To apply a cold compress, follow these steps:

  • Wet a clean washcloth with cold water and wring out any excess.
  • Fold the cloth into a small square or rectangle.
  • Place the cloth on the affected area of your gums for 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove the compress and wait at least 30 minutes before reapplying.
  • Repeat as needed throughout the day. 

Maintain Proper Oral Hygiene

An integral first step in preventing bleeding gums revolves around maintaining optimal oral hygiene practices. This crucial daily regimen involves brushing your teeth twice daily, utilizing a toothbrush with soft bristles, and routinely flossing your teeth once a day.

When brushing, ensure you use gentle, circular motions to cover all areas and avoid vigorous or forceful scrubbing. Doing so can damage and irritate your gums further, potentially worsening the problem of bleeding gums rather than preventing it.

Increase Your Vitamin C Intake

If you experience bleeding gums, it becomes vital to boost your consumption of vitamin C-rich foods, including wholesome edibles like oranges, strawberries, broccoli, and bell peppers. These foods are naturally packed with vitamin C, which aids in gum health. In addition, oral vitamin C supplement intake can also be considered. However, it’s always advisable to talk to your healthcare provider or a doctor beforehand to ensure they are a suitable and safe choice for your specific health condition.

Use an Antibacterial Mouthwash

The regular practice of rinsing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash has been proven to kill harmful bacteria and reduce inflammation within your gums. Opting for a mouthwash containing potent ingredients such as chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride is highly advisable. These ingredients are renowned for their antibacterial properties and effectiveness in preventing plaque buildup, thus contributing to overall oral health and the prevention of gum diseases.

Quit Smoking

Indulging in the harmful smoking habit does more than stain teeth and cause unpleasant breath. It also critically heightens the risk of developing severe gum diseases and experiencing bleeding gums. This is primarily due to the destructive nicotine and other cigarette chemicals, which wreak havoc on your gum tissue. The effects of these toxic substances impair the healing process of your gums, resulting in longer recovery times for oral health issues and heightened susceptibility to further complications.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Maintaining regular dental checkups is not just about keeping your smile attractive; it also plays a paramount role in oral health. Your dentist can detect early signs of gum disease and can promptly initiate necessary periodontal treatment, thus preventing it from escalating.

This is also a perfect time for your hygienist to perform a professional cleaning. This is especially true for areas that are hard to reach to remove plaque build-up, preventing tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems. Moreover, regular visits can help detect oral cancer or any other abnormalities at an early stage.

Try Green Tea

Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce swelling and bleeding in the gums.

Use Anti-Gingivitis Toothpaste

Some toothpastes are formulated to fight gingivitis, a common cause of bleeding gums.

Try a Turmeric Paste

Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Applying a turmeric paste to your gums may help reduce bleeding.

What Happens if You Don’t Treat Bleeding Gums?

Progression to Periodontitis

Untreated gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. The infection and pockets deepen, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth.

Bone and Tissue Breakdown

The body’s immune system fights the bacteria causing the infection, but this process can start to break down the bone and connective tissue that holds the teeth in place.

Tooth Loss

In severe cases, untreated periodontitis can lead to tooth loss due to the breakdown of the supporting structures of the teeth.

Affects Your Heart

Many people who have gum disease also have atherosclerosis or plaque buildup in the arteries. Both are related to inflammation. Taking care of your teeth and gums can also help to prevent other health problems, such as heart disease.

Blood Sugar

Gum disease and diabetes are closely tied. If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to get gum disease. If you have gum disease, it’s harder to control your blood sugar levels and can make diabetes worse.

Your Baby

If you’re pregnant and have gum disease, your odds of delivering your baby early may be higher. Recent studies suggest that bacteria from gum disease may get into your bloodstream and travel to your fetus. That can bring on premature labor and raise your chance of having a baby with a low birth weight.


Some experts suggest there may be a link between periodontal disease and certain cancers, but it hasn’t been scientifically proven. If your bleeding gums are from long-term periodontal disease, the inflammation may increase your odds of having cancer.

Take Action and Let Our Experienced Team Care for Your Oral Health 

Preserving your smile and overall oral health is crucial. Regular dental checkups can catch early signs of gum disease, preventing it from worsening. To optimize your oral hygiene routine, seeking professional advice is critical.

Contact us now to schedule your appointment. At Sunset Dentistry in San Francisco, CA, we don’t only offer gentle and efficient professional dental cleanings and check-ups. We also offer comprehensive services and preventative care measures to address your bleeding gums and other dental issues that cause it. Additionally, we provide personalized expert dental advice to help you maintain your oral health at home.

Call us today for your initial consultation!