What could cause my gums to bleed when I am brushing?

Dr. Rita Medwid

The cause of bleeding gums could be due to a type of gum disease, infection or brushing too hard. Make sure you floss. After two weeks of brushing and flossing daily, if you still have bleeding gums, be sure to visit your dentist.

Carol Jahn

The most likely cause of bleeding gums during brushing is gum disease. Healthy gums typically do not bleed. If you have not seen your dentist and hygienist in the last 6 mos for a cleaning and checkup, schedule an appointment. If caught early, gum disease can be reversed with a thorough cleaning and good daily home care that includes cleaning in between teeth in addition to twice daily toothbrush. Brushing is not enough. To keep your mouth healthy, you must clean between your teeth. It does not have to be with dental floss. Other products work as well and are just as effective including floss holders, interdental brushes, and a Water Flosser.

Inflamed gums or excessive bleeding after brushing and flossing may be warning signs of gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can become the more severe periodontitis (literally meaning “inflammation around the teeth”). Gum disease is typically caused by subpar brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a thick buildup of bacteria—to stick to teeth, which then inflames the surrounding gums. But what’s going on in your mouth says a lot about your health and beauty. Symptoms such as bleeding or swollen gums, bad breath or tenderness in the mouth can give insight to larger issues within the body.

Doctors link gum disease to internal body issues, such as thinning hair, heart problems, respiratory issues, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.

Gum disease could be what causes your gums to bleed when you brush your teeth. If you feel that your gums are swollen or tender and notice that they separate from your teeth, these are other signs of gum disease. Sometimes bleeding gums may be the only warning sign of gum disease. Your gums may also bleed a little if you brush your teeth too hard. It is important to regularly visit a dentist who can check for gum disease, tooth decay, and other signs of infections of your mouth.

It is best to see your dentist if your gums bleed when you brush. Your dentist will tell you the cause of the bleeding gums and the solution to stop it from bleeding. There are a number of reasons that your gums could be bleeding when you brush. The following are the most likely reasons:

  1. You could just be brushing too hard and actually causing more damage than good. Your gums and tooth can be abraded by brushing too hard with a toothbrush. The best way to brush is to use a soft toothbrush and gentle fingertip pressure, holding your toothbrush like a flute rather than a hairbrush.
  2. You could have some form of gum disease ranging from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontitis. The condition of your mouth may be a sign of something more going on in the body. For example, many patients have been diagnosed with a form of Periodontitis only to find out that they have diabetes. Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications.
  3. You could have an abscess which could have blood and pus coming out. You may or may not have pain when you have an abscess.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.