Why Do My Gums Bleed When I Brush My Teeth?

Why do my gums bleed when I brush my teeth? If you are asking yourself this question, you have come to the right place looking for the answer.

The first thing you should know is that gum bleeding is that it is both common and typically not serious – although it can be.

Plaque or tartar buildup as a result of poor dental hygiene is the most common reason for bleeding gums. When bacteria is left alone to grow along the gum line, it can cause your gums to become both red and inflamed, which in turn makes them more susceptible to bleeding.

Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to both treat and prevent bleeding gums. In other words, always be sure to brush your teeth twice daily, floss once a day, and use the proper mouthwash.

There are, of course, cases where bleeding gums are a sign of something slightly more serious than a few day’s worth of poor dental hygiene habits, so keep on reading to learn more about all of the common reasons for bleeding gums, as well as how to prevent and treat gums that are bleeding when you brush or floss.

Common causes of bleeding gums

What are the most common causes of bleeding gums? Well, here is an overview.

Poor oral hygiene

Poor dental hygiene is at the root of most dental and oral problems people face, including bleeding gums.

It is an uncomfortable truth that neglecting your oral hygiene for as little as a couple of days can have tremendous negative consequences on your gums and teeth.

If you are curious about what happens if you don’t brush or floss on a daily basis, read our article on the topic, right here.

Gum disease

When your gums are bleeding, gum disease is more often than not the hidden cause.

Even if your case of gum disease is very mild, it is very important to not ignore it, and to seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible. When gum disease is left untreated, it can advance to later stages of periodontal disease that require more extensive treatment, which could include tooth extractions, gum surgery and even bone grafting.


In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis.

Gingivitis can cause redness, swelling, and irritation, but in some cases gingivitis is almost without symptoms, which can make it difficult to identify and treat in time.

Gingivitis is caused by excessive plaque buildup along your gum line, which is what leads to inflammation and bleeding. If you find that your gums are often red and irritated, and that they sometimes bleed when you are brushing and flossing, you might have gingivitis.

Other gingivitis symptoms to watch out for include bad breath and receding gums.


If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to a more serious gum disease known as periodontitis.

The main difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that the latter infects the deeper layer of soft tissue and can cause extensive damage to the gums and the teeth.

Periodontitis has been linked to a variety of serious dental and overall health concerns, including abscesses, jaw bone damage, tooth loss, cardiovascular disease and lung infections.

Pregnancy gingivitis

Unlike the typical reasons for gingivitis, pregnancy gingivitis is not caused by poor oral hygiene but rather, as the name suggests, by pregnancy.

Pregnant women experience hormonal changes that make their gums more sensitive to plaque. These changes also make it so that bacteria are more likely to thrive, which makes bleeding gums incredibly common for women that are pregnant.

Tooth abscess

When a cavity or crack in your tooth goes untreated, harmful bacteria will inevitably enter the crevices and infect the dental pulp.

The pulp is the soft innards of your tooth and consists of blood vessels and nerves. An infection at this depth can make the tooth root to swell with infection. This can cause both extreme tooth pain as well as tender and inflamed gums.

If you have an abscessed tooth, brushing or flossing along the area can both be painful and can cause bleeding.

If the infection is severe, your dentist may drain the area or perform a root canal treatment to get rid of the infection and save the the tooth. In severe cases, though, the tooth itself will have to be extracted and replaced with an implant.

Vitamin deficiencies

In some cases, vitamin deficiencies, such as Vitamin C deficiency, can also cause bleeding gums.

The best response to this is to increase your intake of red peppers, oranges, sweet potatoes, or carrots to help fight off gum bleeding and potential infection.

Brushing or flossing too vigorously

Brushing and flossing regularly is extremely important if you want to maintain your oral health, but if you floss or brush too vigorously, you might be making your gums bleed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should give up flossing and brushing. It may simply be necessary to make a few changes to your oral hygiene routine, such as switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush and learning how put less pressure on the brush or the dental floss.


Sometimes, bleeding gums can be caused by something other than your oral health or hygiene . For example, if you’re on a blood thinner medication, such as heparin or warfarin, your gums might bleed more easily when you brush your teeth.

Preventing and treating bleeding gums

Fortunately, bleeding gums are usually not a serious problem. They can often be reversed before the situation gets out of hand.

Here are some of the most important lifestyle habits to focus on if you want to reverse and prevent bleeding gums.

Practice good oral hygiene

Staying on top of your oral hygiene is key when you want to prevent gum bleeding.

Make sure to brush at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once a day.

It’s also important to make sure to go to all of your regular dental appointments to get a checkup and professional cleaning.

Eat a healthy diet

If you want to prevent bleeding gums as well as more serious gum problems, focus on eating a healthy diet and on increasing your intake of Vitamins C and K.

Vitamin C helps to strengthen your immune system and prevent gum infections that can cause inflammation and bleeding. Vitamin K, on the other hand, helps your blood to clot and ensures firm gums.

If you can, you should also eat fewer carbs. Carbohydrates and sugary foods encourage plaque and the growth of acid-producing bacteria. And as we already know, the more plaque accumulates on your gums, the more likely you are to have bleeding gums and develop periodontal disease.

Use hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse

Hydrogen peroxide is a great all-round oral hygiene tip. Rinsing with a hydrogen peroxide and water solution on a regular basis can reduce gum inflammation and gingivitis, which naturally leads to a reduction in gum bleeding as well.

Quit smoking

If you are a smoker, you are twice as likely to develop gum disease as a non-smoker. In other words, every time you smoke a cigarette, you are harming your gums and increasing the odds of gum disease. 

Quitting smoking can be difficult, but it is necessary for your long-term oral and overall health.

Frequently asked questions

Why are my gums bleeding every time I brush my teeth?

If your gums are bleeding every time you brush or floss, there are about handful of possible reasons.

When your gums are bleeding, it is usually the result of poor oral hygiene. If you do not brush or floss regularly or thoroughly enough, plaque buildup can irritate and inflame the gums. If plaque and tartar are left to build up along your gum line, the result could soon be receding gums and gum disease.

Other potential causes for bleeding gums include hormonal changes due to pregnancy, Vitamin C deficiency, medications (especially blood thinners), flossing or brushing too forcefully, and having an abscessed tooth or gum disease.

Should I stop brushing if my gums bleed?

No, brushing and flossing are important, even if your gums are bleeding.
What you can do instead is switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush and learn how to brush your teeth without using too much force.

If you want to learn more about what really happens if you stop brushing and flossing, read our article on the topic right here.

Final thoughts

Never ignore bleeding gums. 

Even though bleeding gums is usually not a serious problem, it can spiral quickly if left untreated.

If you notice that your gums are bleeding every time you brush and floss, take it a sign to double down own your oral hygiene routine. It is also a good idea to get seen by a dentist, who will be able to identify any underlying causes that may be causing your gums to bleed.

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