7 Potential Causes of Bleeding Gums

Even though it’s fairly common, there’s something unnerving about spitting into the sink and noticing some blood mixed in with your saliva.

Luckily, bleeding gums don’t usually indicate catastrophe. Instead, they’re most commonly a signal that your oral health routine could benefit from some tweaks. So before you panic at the sight of red, brush up on these seven common causes of bleeding gums.

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You’re brushing too hard.

You might think vigorous brushing removes more gunk from your teeth and is therefore better for your oral health. But that’s actually a big ’ol myth. The reality is that applying too much pressure when you brush can be harmful to your gums, and may even cause them to bleed. Even if it seems counterintuitive, a lighter touch is best. Brush up on more tooth brushing tips here.

Your toothbrush is too hard.

Just as applying hard pressure can be tough on teeth and gums, so too can using a hard-bristled toothbrush. Hard bristles may be so rough that they cause the gums to bleed, which explains why it’s a good idea to opt for a soft-bristled brush instead.

You just started flossing again.

If your flossing routine lapsed for a while and you’ve just started it up again, you may experience bleeding gums the first several times you floss. In most cases, this will stop once your gums have readjusted to a regular flossing routine.

You’re on certain medications.

A variety of medications—most notably blood thinners—can make your gums more susceptible to bleeding. If you’re not sure whether bleeding gums are a side effect of any medication you’re on, consult your dentist or doctor.

You’re pregnant.

Because of the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, some pregnant women develop a condition called “pregnancy gingivitis”. The condition is characterized by swollen gums and bleeding during brushing. In most cases, these symptoms go away after pregnancy—but it’s still a good idea to develop a close relationship with your dentist during your pregnancy. (Check out this post for more on pregnancy and oral health.)

Your dentures (or another oral appliance) don’t fit properly.

When oral fixtures don’t fit well, they can cause rubbing and irritation of the gums. This, in turn, makes gums more susceptible to bleeding. Luckily, the fix is simple: Visit your dentist so they can adjust the fit of your oral appliance and prevent it from causing any friction.

You have certain health issues.

A variety of dental and/or medical issues may contribute to bleeding gums. These include conditions such as gingivitis, periodontitis, diabetes, leukemia, scurvy, vitamin deficiencies, or blood disorders. If you’re experiencing any of these health issues, it’s important to work closely with your dentist and/or doctor to manage your symptoms as effectively as possible.

If your gums bleed on a regular or prolonged basis, don’t panic—but do make an appointment with your dentist. They’ll be able to help you identify the cause of your bleeding gums and develop a treatment plan to maintain your oral health.