Updated: Oct 11
Don't panic the next time you see blood in your spit whilst brushing or flossing! It probably just means it’s time to give your gums and oral health more attention. While it’s usually no major cause for concern, bleeding gums may suggest an underlying condition that can be gradually fixed by making some minor changes. Sometimes you may require treatment from your dentist in some more serious cases.
I understand that going to the dentist isn’t always cheap, but what other body parts would you let bleed regularly without getting checked out? We often ignore bleeding gums because they typically don’t hurt, but it can lead to losing teeth, and nobody wants that!
But if you want to stop your gums from bleeding once and for all, arm yourself with information on WHY they bleed in the first place!
In this post, I'll get to the root of the problem (pun intended!) to help you understand the potential causes of bleeding gums while brushing teeth or flossing. I will also share easy tweaks and home remedies for bleeding gums that you can integrate into your dental care pronto. This way, you can take some accountability for your dental health care and really make a difference.
Potential causes for bleeding gums
Gingivitis, signifying the early stage of gum disease, can be identified by swollen, tender gums that are so sensitive that they bleed from the slightest touch.
It develops from the accumulation of sticky plaque along the gum line that isn’t adequately removed by daily brushing, which harbors nasty bacteria that lead to sensitivity and bleeding.
At the point of gingivitis, stopping the bleeding with at-home bleeding gums treatment is still an option. But without any intervention, plaque solidifies into tartar that builds up at the bottom of the teeth, pushing the gums away and allowing millions of bacteria to thrive below the gum line.
Once you get to this state, it becomes a much more severe problem that can only be treated by visiting a dental professional.
First-time flossers or any item to clean between the teeth
It’s normal for your gums to bleed if it’s your first time picking up the floss, as your gums are just getting used to the pressure. If you’re flossing correctly, the bleeding should be gone within a week.
If it persists, it could indicate gingivitis or an even more serious issue.
Toothbrush bristle stiffness
Soft, medium, or hard — if you hadn't put much thought into the firmness of your toothbrush bristles, listen up! Your gums are soft and delicate, so using a brush that’s too hard could be what’s causing your gums to bleed.
Brushing and flossing intensity
Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing could also be caused by something as simple as being too vigorous. Again, your gums are delicate and should be treated with care!
Sorry soon-to-be mamas, but swollen and bleeding gums are another thing pregnant women sometimes endure, thanks to surging hormone levels.
Elevated hormones boost blood flow to the gums, causing inflammation and making them more tender and vulnerable to plaque and bacteria.
Gum bleeding is a potential side effect of some drugs, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and blood thinners. A person on blood thinners or anticoagulants needs to be careful during brushing and flossing.
These medications affect the blood’s ability to clot, so even the slightest nick can cause a pool of red to start trickling from the gums.
Poor diet and not getting enough vitamins C and K could also result in bleeding gums. Vitamin C is involved in tissue growth and repair, which affects the strength of the bones and teeth. Therefore, a lack of it can cause the gums to weaken and become more susceptible to bleeding.
Meanwhile, vitamin K helps with blood clotting, and we already know what happens if the blood is unable to clot!
Home remedies for bleeding gums
Practice good oral hygiene
The buildup of plaque along the gum line is one of the leading causes of bleeding gums. So even if cleaning between the teeth and brushing are causing your sink to turn pink every time you do so, that doesn’t mean you should skip them.
In fact, it means that you should be doing more frequent brushing and cleaning betwee to get rid of harmful plaque before they have a chance to develop into something more serious. Remember to brush twice daily, for at least 2 minutes each time, and clean between your teeth!
Get the right toothbrush bristle stiffness
Try switching to a toothbrush with softer bristles to see if allows you to better clean the biofilm or plaque from your teeth and gums, or discuss with your dental hygienist to find the right bristle stiffness for your gums.
Brush and floss gently
Delicate gums require tender care. It could be as simple as having a lighter hand while brushing to prevent bleeding. Try to be a little bit gentler the next time you brush and see if bleeding still occurs. If it doesn’t, problem solved!
However, if it persists, it may be time to visit your dentist. You can also consider switching to floss made of satin, as these are gentler on the gums.
Increase Vitamin C and K intake
We already know that Vitamin C and K deficiencies are potential causes of bleeding gums. So, ensure you are getting enough of these vitamins in your diet. Boost your immune system to fight off infections that can lead to bleeding gums by increasing your vitamin C intake. Up the C quotient through foods such as lemons, carrots, oranges, and red peppers or by taking supplements.
Getting enough Vitamin K helps the blood clot, which you want when brushing or flossing bleeding gums. You can get high amounts of them by eating collard greens, kale, spinach, mustard greens, or with the help of an approved supplement.
Since a buildup of bacteria mainly causes gum disease, regularly rinsing the mouth with a saltwater solution may help lower bacterial loads and stop bleeding. You can easily make a mixture yourself at home by simply adding a half teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water, and gargling for a few seconds, three to four times a day.
Visit your dentist regularly
Although brushing and flossing removes daily plaque buildup, it is impossible to ensure that we are getting all of it. As a result, some bacteria may remain, hardening over time, leading to other oral health issues.
You should visit your dentist at least twice a year for a dental exam and biofilm disruption to remove any leftover plaque or hardened tartar. This will help reverse the development of early gum disease, and it is also essential for cavity prevention.
Finding out what's causing your gums to bleed is the first step in figuring out what to do about it. Understanding the “why” is also crucial for prevention. Now you know that bleeding gums can be caused by various things, such as bacteria buildup along the gum line, gingivitis, periodontitis, flossing for the first time, brushing or flossing too roughly, pregnancy, taking certain medications, and not getting enough Vitamins C and K.
Moreover, you know that brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day can eliminate buildup, so please keep doing it!
Remember to use the right toothbrush bristle stiffness so that you aren’t hurting your gums, and use a light but firm hand whilst brushing and flossing to avoid bleeding gums. Plus, remember to keep your Vitamin C and K levels up, gargle with a saltwater mixture every now and then, and visit your dentist regularly to keep your oral health in check! Then, hopefully, you can say goodbye to gum bleeding and hello to healthy, shiny teeth!
Here are some products that I recommend to help you stop your gums from bleeding and have a healthier mouth.
Check out the PRO-SYS range of products for outstanding, highly effective toothbrushes, pastes and mouth rinses and use code ROAMING for 10% off.
Or the Burst range for some fantastic electric toothbrushes and water flossers.
TePe also has a great selection of toothbrushes, toothpicks, flossers and interdental toothbrushes.
Want to learn more about great dental hygiene? Join my monthly webinar on Friday, June 24. You can also catch me at the OSAP annual conference from June 16 to 18 in Minneapolis, MN and the ADHA annual conference from June 24 to 26 in Louisville, KY.