Bleeding gums are
most often a sign of gum disease, but can also point to a number of other
health problems as well.
Occasional bleeding of the gums can be the result of brushing
your teeth too vigorously or wearing dentures that don’t fit correctly.
Frequent episodes of gum bleeding, however, can indicate more serious
conditions, such as:
- periodontitis (an advanced form of gum disease)
- leukemia (cancer of the blood)
- vitamin deficiency
- lack of clotting cells (platelets)
Dental care issues are the primary cause of bleeding gums. Gingivitis (inflammation of the
gums) and periodontitis make
your gums sensitive and more prone to bleeding.
Most people develop gingivitis when plaque remains on the gum
line for too long. Plaque refers to the debris and bacteria that stick to your
teeth. Brushing your teeth removes plaque and can prevent you from
developing cavities, also known as dental
caries. Plaque may stay on your gum line, however, if you don’t brush
and floss properly. The accumulation of plaque near your gums can cause
Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- puffy gums
- soreness in the mouth and around the gums
- bleeding gums
Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, can occur when gingivitis
continues to an advanced stage. Periodontal disease is the infection of the
gums, jawbone, and supportive tissues that connect your teeth and gums.
Periodontitis can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out.
Deficiencies of vitamins C and K can also cause gums to bleed
easily. However, vitamin deficiencies aren’t often seen in people who live in
developed countries, according to the Linus Pauling
Institute. This is because healthy children and adults living in developed
areas of the world have access to vitamins C and K through food and
Ask your doctor to check your levels of vitamins C and K if you
encounter bleeding gums that aren’t caused by improper dental care. Follow a
diet that contains both of these nutrients to ensure that you’re getting the
vitamins you need to stay healthy.
Foods rich in vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits and juices
- bell peppers
Foods rich in vitamin K include:
- Swiss chard
- mustard greens
- canola oil
- olive oil
Other Causes of Bleeding Gums
People who wear dentures also may experience bleeding of the gums
from time to time. This is more likely when the dentures are too small or fit
too tightly. Consult your dentist or orthodontist if dentures or other oral
appliances are causing your gums to bleed. You may need to take new impressions
to create a better-fitting mouthpiece.
Pregnancy is a common cause of gum bleeding in women. The
hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause the gums to become more
Bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia and leukemia, can also
increase your chance of bleeding gums. Your gums might bleed more often if you
take blood-thinning medications. Drugs in this class include warfarin, aspirin,
Good dental hygiene is the first step to managing bleeding gums.
Visit your dentist twice yearly for a professional cleaning. Your dentist will
let you know if you have gingivitis and teach you how to brush your teeth
properly. Proper brushing and flossing can eliminate plaque from your gum line,
reducing your risk of developing periodontal disease.
Your dentist may also instruct you to use an antiseptic mouthwash
to minimize the plaque that forms in your mouth. A rinse of warm salt water can
help soothe swollen gums that bleed easily.
Use a soft toothbrush that is gentle on inflamed gums, especially
if you experience bleeding after brushing your teeth. Medium and hard bristles
may be too abrasive for your delicate gums. You might also consider using an
electric toothbrush. The specially designed brush heads on these toothbrushes
can help you to clean your gum line more easily than a manual toothbrush.
Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to
determine if dental health is not the underlying issue causing your bleeding
gums. A complete physical examination and blood work can help determine the
cause of your bleeding. Treatment will vary according to your condition.