Bleeding Gums After Brushing: Causes and Prevention

Have you ever been brushing or flossing and notice your gums start to bleed? We’ve all probably been there. Bleeding gums can be caused by several factors, which can range in severity. Bleeding gums may be a sign of simply brushing too hard, or could also be caused by a more serious condition like gum disease. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximately 46% of people in the United States aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease, like bleeding gums. In this article we discuss causes and ways to prevent bleeding gums.

Causes of bleeding gums

Keep Your Tooth or Pull It Inner Image

Plaque buildup

One of the main causes of bleeding gums is a buildup of dental plaque. Dental plaque is a sticky coating of oral bacteria. The bacteria produce acids as they feed off the sugars and foods we consume, which leads to the breakdown of tooth enamel and gum disease.

Gum disease

Early stage gum disease, also referred to as gingivitis, is characterized by inflammation of the gums. When the gums become inflamed, they typically appear red, puffy, tender, and often bleed easily.

If not treated, gingivitis can progress to a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontal disease. Along with gum bleeding and inflamed gums, periodontal disease can also damage the tooth-supporting bone. Plus, periodontal disease has been linked to many other severe health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Brushing teeth too hard

Bleeding gums could be a result of your brushing technique. If you are brushing too hard, this can cause damage to your gums and lead to gum recession and bleeding gums.

Using a toothbrush with hard bristles

The toothbrush you use can also play a significant role in the health of your gums. Hard bristles can damage your gums and cause them to bleed.

Vitamin deficiencies

Vitamin deficiencies may be the cause of bleeding gums. Inadequate amounts of vitamin C can impair tissue repair and wound healing, and lead to bleeding gums.

In addition, vitamin K is needed for proper blood clotting, and a lack of it can result in bleeding gums.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal changes such as during pregnancy impacts the body’s anti-inflammatory response. As a result, this can lead to swollen and bleeding gums, and is often referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.” It is important to keep up with your regular dental check-ups throughout pregnancy and to continue to practice proper oral hygiene practices at home.


Diabetes can lead to poor wound healing, which makes it harder for your body to fight off infections like gum disease. Individuals with diabetes commonly experience bleeding gums.


Scurvy is a rare condition caused by a lack of vitamin C and poor nutrition. One of the common signs of scurvy is bleeding gums.


Smoking has been known to have detrimental health effects, including when it comes to the oral cavity. Smoking can increase your risk for bleeding gums, gum disease, and oral cancer.

How to prevent bleeding gums

Brush teeth gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush

The more aggressively you brush, the more damage you can cause to your teeth and gums. When brushing, use a soft-bristled electric or manual toothbrush and brush with gentle strokes. Be sure to also replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head approximately every 3 to 4 months or when visibly frayed, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

Floss daily

Flossing is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene and reducing your risk of experiencing bleeding gums. Flossing should be done at least once a day to help remove food particles and dental plaque that becomes lodged between teeth where cavities commonly form.

Use an antiseptic mouthwash

Antiseptic mouthwash is a great addition to your oral hygiene routine to help prevent bleeding gums. It can help eliminate bacteria associated with gum disease and can freshen your breath.

Visit a dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are key to maintaining a healthy smile. Your dental professionals will remove bacterial dental plaque and help you stay on track to prevent gum infections and other oral issues.

Maintain a balanced diet and take necessary vitamin supplements

Eating healthy and making sure you have adequate vitamins and minerals is essential for keeping your gums healthy. Oral bacteria thrive on carbohydrates and can cause a bunch of teeth and gum issues. Make sure your diet is balanced with whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and protein.

Quick ways to stop bleeding gums

Apply gauze

Apply a clean gauze to the affected area which can help quickly stop the bleeding. If your gums seem to take a long time to stop bleeding, this may be due to an underlying medical condition, and it is best to inform your dental professional.

Salt water rinse

Salt water rinses have been known to help eliminate oral bacteria and stop gum bleeding. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends rinsing with a half a teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water.

Reduce stress level

Stress has been linked to many issues relating to the body’s immune system. Researchers have suggested that stress may impact how the body responds to gum infections. In addition, stress may also cause individuals to neglect their oral health, which can lead to gum problems like bleeding gums. Practice stress relieving activities like meditation, yoga, exercise, and other hobbies that you may enjoy.

Use an ice pack or cold compress

In instances where bleeding gums are caused from trauma or an injury, an ice pack or cold compress to the gums can help reduce the swelling and stop the bleeding. Use the ice for 10 minute intervals.

When to see a dentist

  • If bleeding gums persist despite taking preventative measures
  • If there is pain or swelling in the gums
  • If the bleeding is accompanied by other symptoms such as loose teeth or receding gums

If you notice signs of dental infection including persistent bleeding gums, significant pain or swelling, loose teeth, or gum recession for instance, it is best to consult with your dental professionals right away. They will help diagnose the issue and recommend the proper treatment for a healthy smile and gums.


If you notice bleeding gums, don’t panic! But, if you notice your gums are bleeding consistently it is important not to ignore it. Bleeding gums may be a sign of an underlying condition. Be sure to speak with your dental professional to determine the cause and proper treatment to resolve bleeding gums.