Why Do My Gums Bleed When I Brush My Teeth

The most common culprit behind painful and bleeding gums is mouth sores. Painful mouth sores can develop anywhere in your mouth, including on the gums. These lesions often have a whitish centre with red edges. You might experience one or multiple sores throughout your mouth.

All The Reasons Your Gums Bleed When Brushing Your Teeth

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Picture it: You’re standing in the bathroom merrily brushing your teeth when you look in the mirror and notice that your mouth looks a little, well, redder than usual. Maybe your toothpaste is a bit pink when you spit in the sink, too. This is a sign that your gums are bleeding as you brush, and it can definitely be a bit jarring.

On the plus side, it’s actually pretty common for your gums to bleed a little as you go about your dental hygiene routine, says Dr. Ivette Soto, DDS, a dentist based in Denton, Texas. It also isn’t necessarily a dental emergency. In many cases, you can simply take note that your gums are bleeding, aim to brush a little gentler next time, and move on with your life. So really, there’s no need to panic.

That said, healthy gums won’t bleed on a regular basis, says Soto, so if you keep spotting blood in the sink, don’t ignore it. If this is the case, Soto recommends starting with a quick call to your dentist’s office to explain what’s going on. “They may be able to help you through the phone or ask you to come in for a closer look,” she tells Bustle. “Early intervention is always the best course of action, so don’t wait until you’re in pain.”

With that in mind, here are all the reasons why your gums might bleed when you brush, plus what you can do about it.

Why Your Gums Bleed When You Brush Your Teeth

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There are quite a few reasons why your gums might bleed when you brush. “If you’re just beginning to experience bleeding gums, it could be caused by something as simple as brushing too hard,” says cosmetic dentist Dr. Joyce Kahng. If you press down on your gums, brush really fast, or use a toothbrush that has stiff bristles, that extra force can damage your gum tissue and make them bleed.

Again, a little bit of blood isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. But if the bleeding is more severe or if it happens all the time, it could be a sign of gum irritation caused by plaque, a cavity, a filling, a crown, or calculus, Soto says. “Calculus is plaque that has been trapped for some time, so it’s hardened up in the gum tissue and is a constant irritant,” she says. “Once gum tissue is irritated and inflamed, it will bleed easily when brushing or flossing.”

Bloody gums can also be a sign of a gum disease like gingivitis, which Kahng says is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. “Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that can be caused by a build-up of dental plaque, poor dental hygiene habits, or certain medical conditions,” she tells Bustle. It can cause your gums to be red, swollen, and painful, and even the lightest brushing can make them bleed.

Another possible culprit? Periodontitis, aka a more severe form of gum disease. “Periodontitis is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can lead to an infection of the gums and surrounding tissue,” Kahng explains. “This infection can cause the gums to become inflamed and to bleed during brushing.”

What To Do About Bleeding Gums

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If your gums bleed all the time, that’s your cue to book a dentist appointment. “Your dentist can examine your gums and teeth to determine the cause of the bleeding and recommend the best course of action,” Kahng says. They can treat gingivitis and periodontitis, and send you home with a good game plan.

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As with all things dental health, prevention is the best route of action. Kahng recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with an electric or soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing once a day to remove plaque and tartar buildup that gathers between your teeth, and using an antiseptic mouthwash to get rid of bacteria buildup. That, along with regular dental checkups, should help keep your teeth and gums healthy so your mouth is less likely to bleed.

Alasqah, M. (2019). The effect of gingival bleeding on oral home care practices in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 8(8), 2696-2698. https://doi.org/10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_335_19

Intan Suhana, MA. (2020). Inflammation of the Gums. Malays Fam Physician. PMID: 32284812; PMCID: PMC7136683.

Rathee, M. (2022). Gingivitis. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–. PMID: 32491354.

White, DJ. (1997). Dental calculus: recent insights into occurrence, formation, prevention, removal and oral health effects of supragingival and subgingival deposits. Eur J Oral Sci. 1997 Oct;105(5 Pt 2):508-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.1997.tb00238.x. PMID: 9395117.

How To Treat Gums That Bleed While Brushing Your Teeth

How To Treat Gums That Bleed While Brushing Your Teeth - Savina Dental Clinics Malta and Gozo

The sight of blood when brushing your teeth is often an indication that you have injured yourself or that something isn’t right. Although traces of blood while brushing your teeth might not look serious, you should not ignore it if you are often bleeding. In this article, we discuss what causes bleeding gums and suitable treatments for this common dental issue.

Bleeding gums

Bleeding gums might be an indication that you have or are developing gum disease. Consistent gum bleeding may be due to plaque buildup on your teeth or a sign of a more serious medical condition. Plaque contains germs that attack the healthy tissues around your teeth. This causes the gums to become inflamed and irritated, leading to bleeding whenever you floss or brush them.

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What causes bleeding gums?

There are several reasons why you may have bleeding gums. Here are some of the most common causes of bleeding gums:

Brushing too hard

In an attempt to keep your teeth clean, you might be tempted to brush a little too vigorously, which might result in damaged gums, causing bleeding. When choosing a toothbrush, whether manual or electric, make sure you pick a medium ‘hardness’ toothbrush rather than a soft one, as this is not efficient enough in removing plaque. However, when brushing your teeth, use a gentle circular motion to massage and clean your teeth and gums. The back-and-forth motion most people use to brush their teeth can irritate and possibly damage your gums, making them irritated and more prone to bleeding or receding.

Poor flossing technique

Daily flossing is essential for your oral hygiene and health. It helps to remove plaques that a standard toothbrush cannot reach. Poor flossing techniques, however, can cause your gums to bleed. Make sure you are gentle when flossing. Instead of forcing the flossing tool between your teeth, cautiously slide it between them, making sure to follow the natural arc of each tooth. Interdental brushes of the correct size can be used instead of floss, which some patients find easier to use and are kinder on the gums. Another option is to use air flossers or water picks instead of flossing or interdental brushes. These are rechargeable devices that can be filled with water or mouthwash and expel a jet of fluid when directed in between teeth to clean areas unreachable with toothbrushes.

A vitamin deficiency

A vitamin K deficiency can cause bleeding gums. Vitamin K is essential for the proteins involved in the coagulation process to function correctly.

A vitamin C deficiency might also cause bleeding gums. Vitamin C helps your tissues to repair and grow smoothly. It also helps to heal wounds and strengthen your bones and teeth.

Taking blood thinners or other medications

Blood thinners might cause bleeding gums. Blood thinners reduce your blood’s ability to clot, making it easier to bleed. Talk to your doctor or dentist about your experience and any medication that you may be taking.

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Bleeding or clotting disorders

Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura is a disorder that causes excessive bleeding due to low levels of platelets (platelets are the cells that help your blood form clots).

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy might result in pregnancy gingivitis

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can alter your body’s response to the bacteria that cause gum disease. That is why you will find that some pregnant women experience swollen gums and bleeding. However, these symptoms should clear up after the pregnancy. Still, make sure you brush and floss regularly as well as attend all dental checkups to help prevent the condition from becoming worse.

Dentures that don’t fit

Did your gums start bleeding right after dental treatment? This might be a sign that the denture work or dental fillings were poorly placed or have a poor fit. Visit your dentists to discuss your denture related issue and correct the problem.

Mouth sores

The most common culprit behind painful and bleeding gums is mouth sores. Painful mouth sores can develop anywhere in your mouth, including on the gums. These lesions often have a whitish centre with red edges. You might experience one or multiple sores throughout your mouth.

Several other medical problems can cause bleeding gums, including diabetes, heart disease, leukaemia or scurvy. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to visit your physician for blood tests and further evaluation.

how to treat gums that bleed while brushing your teeth

Bleeding Gums Treatment

Improve your oral care routine

According to Medline Plus, the primary cause of irritated and bleeding gums is the buildup of plaques along the gum. Whenever you fail to remove the plaques stuck in your teeth on time, they harden, forming tartar (a solidified material that plaques bonds to) and continue irritating the gums, causing them to bleed. This may progress into a more advanced form of gum disease. One of the best ways to reduce plaque buildup is by upping up your dental care practices.

Make sure you brush two times a day using fluoride toothpaste. Also, floss at least one time each day. Ensure that you see your dentist regularly to warrant that your oral health stays in perfect shape.

Check your oral care tools

While they might seem like they can clean your gums and teeth more deeply, the truth is that harder-bristled toothbrushes irritate, which may be causing your gums to bleed. According to the American Dental Association, you should always use a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth. A soft-bristled brush cleans your gums and teeth thoroughly without irritating them.

Follow a healthy diet

Did you know that what you eat plays a significant role in whether or not your gums bleed? Consuming foods rich in simple carbohydrates or sugar might increase your risk of developing gum and tooth problems. Sugars create the perfect environment for the development of plaque.
Instead of a low-sugar diet, go for one that is high in all the necessary nutrients. This does not mean that you have to stop eating sweets altogether. All you need to do is to practice self-discipline when eating sweets and brushing your teeth afterwards.

Saltwater

This is an excellent age-old home remedy for treating bleeding gums. Salty water dries up bacteria, preventing bleeding. For best results, consider mixing two other ingredients- Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. This mixture helps to destroy the bacteria and clean the area.

When to see your dentist

If changing your oral habits and diet and adjusting your medication does not help stop your bleeding gums, your next cause of action is to visit your dentist. The presence of other symptoms indicates a more serious problem and should be examined by a dentist. These may include:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Sensitive gums
  • Gums that seem to be separating from the teeth
  • Frequent bad breath or taste in your mouth
  • Loose teeth as an adult
  • Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth align

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Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams’ full biographical information can be found here.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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