Causes of Bleeding Gums

10 Causes of Bleeding Gums

September 21, 2021

Originally published August 2018. Updated September 2021.

You noticed a little pink in the sink after brushing your teeth. Or maybe you noticed blood in your mouth after flossing. What’s causing your gums to bleed? And is it serious?

Gums bleed for many reasons. Some, like gum disease, are serious and warrant a call to your dentist sooner rather than later. Others are less serious, and, in some cases, you can stop bleeding gums with simple changes to your daily brushing and flossing routine.

Here are 10 reasons gums bleed and how to stop it before the problem becomes a bigger issue.

Struggling with the health of your gums? With our “Find A Dentist” tool, you can locate a provider that will help you get your oral health back on track.

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Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms include tender and swollen gums, and in some cases bleeding gums during brushing and flossing.

Gingivitis happens when plaque along your gum line isn’t properly removed. This sticky plaque breeds all sorts of nasty bacteria that can cause bleeding and sensitivity. At this early stage, gingivitis can be stopped and reversed before it becomes periodontitis, which is the advanced form of gum disease.

You can prevent bleeding caused by gingivitis with proper oral care. Brush and floss regularly and stay on top of your routine dental check-ups.


Another possible cause of bleeding gums is blood thinning medication. Blood thinning medications decrease the blood’s ability to clot, leading to easier bleeding, including at the gumline. Every time you visit your dentist, let them know about any new medications. This helps the dentist identify any issues or oral health problems.

Your dentist might recommend a different oral care routine to help minimize or stop bleeding that might be caused by medication.

New Flossing Routine

If your gums bleed after flossing, and they’ve never bled before, the flossing itself could be the cause. If you took a few days off from flossing or increased the rate per week at which you floss, you might notice minor gum bleeding. This gum bleeding should stop on its own after a couple of flossing sessions. If your gums bleed frequently, or every time you floss, visit your dentist.

New Toothbrush

A new type of toothbrush can also cause gum bleeding. If you switch from soft bristles to hard bristles, bleeding is sometimes your gums’ way of telling you to take it down a notch.

Most dentists recommend a soft bristled toothbrush, specifically because it is easier on gums. So, if your gums bleed from a hard-bristled toothbrush, heed the warning.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Yep, it's a thing.

Increased hormones during pregnancy cause increased blood flow to your gums, making them extra sensitive to plaque and bacteria. This in turn often leads to tender gums and gum bleeding during brushing. Pregnancy gingivitis, and any associated gum bleeding, usually stops shortly after pregnancy.

Poor Oral Hygiene Habits

You might be surprised to learn that even a temporary lapse in otherwise stellar oral hygiene sometimes causes bleeding gums. Research shows healthy gums can bleed and become diseased with just one day off proper oral care. Yikes!

Prevent or stop bleeding by improving your daily oral hygiene habits. Brush for two minutes, twice-a-day and floss daily to keep plaque at bay and prevent swollen, bleeding gums.

Poor Diet

Some ingredients in processed foods irritate gums and may cause minor bleeding. To help prevent this, opt for healthier alternatives instead. Fruits and veggies, along with foods rich in calcium, vitamins C and D, and magnesium are critical components of oral health. Make sure you get your daily recommended allowances of these nutrients.


Living in a constant state of agitation and anxiety compromises your immune system, making it harder to ward off any number of issues, including bleeding gums and gum disease.

Stress causes inflammation throughout the body, particularly in the blood vessels. This breaks down soft tissues in your mouth, further slowing the healing process for bleeding gums. Try reducing your stress levels whenever possible.

Misaligned Bite

If your teeth aren’t properly aligned you may develop “bite disease,” which is where the wrong type of pressure is applied to the wrong places when you bite down or grind your teeth.

These destructive forces affect your teeth, as well as the supporting tissue and bone. If you apply repeated pressure in one spot, the gums recede and the bone deteriorates, creating a prime spot for gum disease and bleeding gums. Talk to your dentist about solutions for an unbalanced bite.

Smoking or Vaping

It’s true. Both smoking and vaping increase your risk for oral health problems, including sensitive, diseased, and bleeding gums. Once gum bleeding starts, dangerous bacteria trapped between the teeth and the gumline can get into the bloodstream, causing further complications.

If you are worried about how smoking or vaping affects your oral health, talk to your dentist or doctor about alternatives or programs to help you quit.

Visit Your Dentist

These are just a few reasons your gums might be bleeding and the information above is meant solely as a guideline. But as with anything related to your oral health, nothing substitutes regular dental checkups.

At routine dental appointments, your dentist checks for signs of gum disease and screens for other oral health issues. They can help identify if your gums are bleeding, the potential cause, and work with you on a plan to stop it.

If your gums bleed persistently or if you experience ongoing pain association with bleeding gums, don’t wait for your next checkup. When left untreated, bleeding gums can lead to more serious oral health problems, so make an appointment with your dentist if you are concerned.

Struggling with the health of your gums? With our “Find A Dentist” tool, you can locate a provider that will help you get your oral health back on track.

Find A Dentist