Gums Bleeding When Brushing? Here’s What To Do About It

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

If you’ve noticed your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth, even if you’re brushing gently, then you’re probably wondering what the issue is. Bleeding gums aren’t particularly dangerous in most cases, but the underlying conditions causing this symptom could be. So, why are your gums bleeding? And what can you do to stop it?

Bleeding gums are often caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar at the gum line that has led to gingivitis or periodontal disease. You can often stop the bleeding by brushing gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Routine flossing is also essential in oder to prevent bleeding.

Understanding the root cause of bleeding gums is the first step toward treating them. Let’s get into the details so that you can stop the bleeding and maintain healthy gums.

What Causes Bleeding Gums?

Woman with bleeding gums during teeth brushing

Frequent bleeding of the gums could be due to various dental conditions — especially gingivitis and periodontitis — as well as improper dental care techniques. 

In some cases, bleeding gums could be a symptom of more serious medical conditions like diabetes and AIDS, or bleeding disorders like hemophilia, leukemia, and thrombocytopenia.

Other common causes of bleeding gums include:

  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Brushing vigorously or using a toothbrush with hard bristles
  • Starting a flossing regime, and your gums aren’t used to it
  • Certain medications like blood thinners and those that lessen the flow of saliva
  • Wearing dentures that fit too tightly
  • Hormonal shifts during pregnancy, making the gums more sensitive
  • Poor dental restorations

Let’s take an in-depth look into some of the most common causes:


Often, bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis or inflammation of your gums. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease caused by the accumulation of plaque along your gum line. It causes irritation, redness, and swelling of the gums, which may bleed when you brush your teeth.


Periodontitis is an elevated form of gingivitis. This long-term gum condition occurs if you don’t treat your gingivitis early enough. It damages the tissue and bone that support your teeth.

If you suffer from periodontitis, your gums become red, tender, swollen, and inflamed. They may also pull back from the roots of your teeth and bleed easily. Failing to treat periodontitis causes your teeth to loosen or separate, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Vitamin Deficiencies

A deficiency of vitamin C or vitamin K in your body makes your gums prone to bleeding. If you consistently exercise proper dental care yet your gums are still bleeding, ask your doctor to check your vitamins C and K levels.

Additionally, stick to a diet containing both nutrients to ensure you get the vitamins your gums require to stay healthy. 

Foods rich in vitamin C

  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Bell peppers
  • Citrus fruits and juices.

Foods rich in vitamin K

  • Spinach
  • Kales
  • Lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Mustard greens
  • Swiss chard
  • Canola oil
  • Soya beans
  • Olive oil

Brushing Too Hard

Most times, you’ll notice bleeding gums after brushing or flossing. This usually implies that you’re brushing or flossing vigorously. Aside from that, your toothbrush might also be the problem as it might have stiff bristles that tear your gums.

To prevent your toothbrush from ripping up your gums, brush your teeth gently and carefully. Alternatively, you could try using an electric brush that monitors how hard you brush, like the Philips Sonicare 4100 (on Amazon).

Poor Gum Health 

Poor gum health is typically caused by poor dental care, such as not flossing or not brushing and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash. 

If you don’t brush and floss for an extended period, plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens to form tartar. Tartar can’t be removed by brushing. Only a professional cleaning by a dental hygienist or dentist can get rid of it.

When plaque or tartar accumulates on your teeth and along your gum line, they cause irritation and inflammation. In time, your gums become swollen and bleed easily. 

Some people think that vigorous brushing yields cleaner teeth, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Brushing too hard does more harm than good for your gums and pearly whites. It can cause your gums to recede and the tooth enamel to wear away. 

Another thing that oils the wheels of poor gum health is smoking. Smoking doesn’t just damage your gums and teeth but it also reduces the chances of success if you need to be treated for gum diseases.

A poor diet high in sugary foods and beverages also contributes heavily to poor gum health. Junk food and candy have a lot of extra sugar and starch that fuel the bacteria in your mouth to release the acids that attack your teeth and gums.

Habits for Healthy Gums 

Here are a few habits you can adopt to maintain healthy gums:

Avoid Sugary and Processed Foods

Refrain from eating starchy and sugary processed foods such as bread, cakes, cookies, and potato chips. These foods stick to the teeth and gums and break down to release acids that cause inflammation of the gums, bleeding, and tooth decay.

Eat More Green and Leafy Foods

Leafy greens like kales, spinach, and lettuce are excellent sources of several nutrients, including vitamin K, which helps the blood clot faster. Eat more of these foods and you may notice less bleeding.

Abstain From Smoking

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is a major cause of gum disease. Since smoking damages the immune system, your body’s ability to combat the bacteria that sticks to the teeth and gums reduces. It also becomes harder for the body to heal its damaged tissues.

Avoiding smoking won’t just significantly improve the health of your mouth, but benefit your entire body.

Floss Daily

Starting a new flossing routine can cause bleeding at first as your gums may not be used to it. However, after a few days of flossing, the bleeding stops. Consistent flossing boosts your overall gum health and reduces gum bleeding gradually.

Use Mouthwash

Woman rinsing and gargling while using mouthwash from a glass

Adding an antibacterial mouthwash (on Amazon) to your daily oral cleaning routine is advisable because it helps treat and prevent your gums from bleeding. It also treats and prevents gingivitis, which is a common cause of bleeding gums.

Ingredients in mouthwash — like hydrogen peroxide and chlorhexidine — help kill bacteria and reduce inflammation, relieving sore, swollen, and bleeding gums. 

However, mouthwash should never be a replacement for your regular dental care routine — it should only be used as a supplement to daily brushing and flossing.

Use the Correct Toothbrush

If you have sensitive gums, firm or medium toothbrushes are going to be too rough for you. Therefore, it would be best to go for a toothbrush labeled as extra soft or sensitive, like the Colgate 360 Extra Soft Toothbrush (on Amazon).

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush for two minutes twice daily. It can be either manual or electric.

Be sure to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months or when you notice the bristles are frayed.

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