Fact Checked

Bleeding Gums: Causes, Prevention, and Treatments

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

October 31, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

Do your gums bleed easily, especially when you brush and floss your teeth? Bleeding gums are a common dental issue that can mean many different things. When you can identify the underlying cause of your bleeding gums, you can take the best way to treat them.

In many cases, there are simple steps you can take at home to stop your gums from bleeding and improve your overall oral health. Here are some reasons why your gums might bleed, how to treat them, and how to prevent bleeding gums in the future.

Common causes of gum bleeding

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Good indications of healthy gums are a pale pink color, firm texture, and snug fit around each tooth. However, if your gums appear darker in color, feel too soft, or bleed often, it may be a sign that they aren’t being cared for properly.

These are some of the most frequent causes of bleeding gums:

Gingivitis or Periodontal Disease

The most common reason a person’s gums will bleed is plaque or tartar buildup resulting from poor oral hygiene. Plaque is comprised of millions of bacteria, which can rapidly accumulate if it isn’t brushed away. Over time, this plaque causes inflammation around the gum line and often leads to gingivitis.

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that leads to sore, irritated, and swollen gums. You may also notice your gums receding or bleeding, especially after brushing and flossing your teeth.

Luckily, gingivitis is relatively easy to reverse by implementing a good oral hygiene routine. However, if left untreated, it can lead to a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis.

Periodontitis, or periodontal disease, is a severe gum infection that damages the integrity of the bones that support the teeth and can even lead to tooth loss. The good news is that it is easily avoidable and can be treated with a professional deep cleaning and consistent follow-up with your dentist.

Hard-Bristled Toothbrushes

It’s a common misconception that brushing harder results in cleaner teeth – but that isn’t the case. Instead, brushing your teeth should feel more like a massage and never be painful.

One easy way to determine whether you’re brushing too hard is to look at the condition of your toothbrush. For example, if it’s frayed or worn, you’re likely using too much pressure to brush your teeth. Similarly, it’s crucial to only brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging your gums.

Starting a New Flossing Routine

Flossing is vital to prevent gum disease and improve your overall oral health. However, you may notice slight bleeding at your gumline if it’s been a while since you flossed or if you just started a new flossing routine.

Unfortunately, this side effect often discourages people from continuing flossing, which only allows their problems to escalate. Keep in mind that bleeding gums are normal if you haven’t flossed in some time, but your gums will get used to it and thrive in the long run.

Hormonal Changes

The American Pregnancy Association warns that some pregnant women experience bleeding gums due to hormonal changes in the body. This phenomenon is called pregnancy gingivitis and may make the gums more susceptible to bleeding, irritation, and soreness. Pregnancy gingivitis ranges in severity and typically increases during the second trimester.

Essentially, hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy can hinder the body’s ability to fight bacteria, making women more vulnerable to periodontal infections. The best way to manage these changes is by brushing and flossing regularly and keeping up with dental checkups to avoid dangerous gum infections.

Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin deficiencies are a lesser-known cause of bleeding gums. However, if you aren’t getting enough vitamin C or vitamin K in your diet, your gums may not be as healthy as they should be.

Vitamin C is essential for helping your body grow and repair tissue and strengthen your bones and teeth. Consequently, inadequate vitamin C intake can result in swollen, bleeding gums and make you feel weak or irritable.

Similarly, a diet lacking in vitamin K can significantly impact your gums. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and is also beneficial for bone health. If you don’t get enough in your diet or your body cannot absorb vitamin K properly, it can cause bleeding problems and increase the likelihood of gum disease or other oral health issues.

Ill-Fitting Dentures

Some people who wear dentures experience gum bleeding, especially if their dentures are too tight or fit improperly. When dentures fit poorly, they often move around inside the mouth and rub against the gums, which may lead to bleeding and irritation.

If your dentures don’t feel quite right in your mouth or are causing your gums to bleed, talk to your dentist about being fitted for a new one. They can take new impressions of your mouth and gums to create a better fit and minimize discomfort.


Although not as common, bleeding or swollen gums can be a warning sign of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes makes your body less powerful at fighting bacteria, so you’re more likely to develop infections like gum disease or gingivitis. In addition, high blood sugar can make it more difficult for your body to heal, exacerbating oral health issues.

Fortunately, diabetes is a manageable disease, but it can be life-threatening. So, if you suspect you have diabetes, you should visit a doctor immediately for a thorough checkup and any necessary treatment.

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How to treat bleeding gums and prevent gum disease

In some cases, only a dentist or other healthcare professional can treat the underlying causes of bleeding gums. However, there are various ways to improve your gum health from the comfort of your own home, including:

  • Brushing your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months
  • Flossing regularly, even if your gums continue bleeding at first
  • Eating a low-sugar diet and avoiding snacking between meals
  • Quitting smoking and other kinds of tobacco consumption
  • Gargling daily with a salt-water rinse

    Most importantly, commit to seeing your dentist twice yearly for a professional cleaning and oral exam. This step alone can help eliminate bleeding gums and prevent early gum disease from progressing into a more serious dental issue.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do you fix bleeding gums?

    You can often fix bleeding gums simply by improving your oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice per day, floss regularly, and be sure to visit your dentist regularly for a checkup and professional cleaning.

    Why does my gum bleed for no reason?

    If it seems like your gums are bleeding for no apparent reason, the cause may be less obvious, such as poor brushing techniques, hormonal changes, or a vitamin deficiency. Visit a healthcare professional for help determining the root of your gum issues and which treatment will be best for you.

    When should I be concerned about bleeding gums?

    Bleeding gums are always a reason for concern. Although the issue can be easily fixed in many cases, you should still visit the dentist to find out why your gums are bleeding and work on improving your oral health.

    How can I prevent bleeding gums?

    Implementing a good oral hygiene routine is the best way to prevent bleeding gums. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist for regular cleanings and oral exams.

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    There are many reasons why your gums may be bleeding. However, the most common cause is poor oral hygiene leading to gingivitis. Unless it’s brushed away, plaque quickly accumulates on the teeth and gums, causing irritation and inflammation. To avoid this, brush your teeth twice daily, floss regularly, and keep up with your dental checkups.

    You can also prevent bleeding gums by improving your diet, avoiding tobacco, and using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Following these steps can significantly decrease your risk of gum infections and help you avoid more dangerous oral health issues.