What Causes Bleeding Gums?

Do you notice your gums bleed when you brush or floss? This is more serious than you think. What causes bleeding gums? Read our article and find out.

You think you’re doing a great job taking care of your oral health. You always brush and floss – 2 to 3 times daily. And you never miss a dentist appointment. So why do you notice signs of periodontal disease? What’s the reason for your bleeding gums if you have a solid oral hygiene regimen? One factor to consider is your technique. It may be surprising to think about getting brushing and flossing wrong. But it’s possible. Other than brushing and flossing mistakes, certain conditions might be to blame. Let’s take a look at those causes so you’ll know how to address the problem.


If you’re not brushing and flossing the right way, it means you’re not getting rid of the bacteria on your teeth. And that of course, means bacteria will accumulate, forming a film of plaque. Now, as you know, plaque can cause your gingiva or gums to become inflamed. The good news is gingivitis is treatable, especially when it’s early-stage. Aside from correcting your brushing technique, your dentist might recommend an antiseptic mouthwash. The important thing is to not ignore gingivitis even if you have a mild case of it. If you leave it alone, it could progress to periodontitis, a condition that could result in tooth loss.


When people say “gum disease,” they’re thinking of periodontitis. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis goes deeper. If you don’t do something about it, it can spread to the roots of your teeth. Over time, it will destroy the supporting bone and cause your teeth to loosen. And as we mentioned earlier, periodontitis can cause tooth loss. This is why you have to treat gingivitis as soon as you see signs such as increased gum bleeding. Other signs to note include bad breath, gum recession, pain, and teeth shifting. Also, if you smoke, your risk of developing periodontitis is higher.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Let’s say your dentist ruled out gingivitis and periodontitis. What else could be causing your bleeding gums? If you know a bit about sailors and their history, you would know that a lot of them suffered from scurvy (1500 to 1800). They didn’t know it then, but today, we understand that it’s because of vitamin C deficiency. Now you might say that your chances of getting scurvy are slim. And you’re right. You have to be vitamin-C deficient for at least three months to develop scurvy. But even if you don’t have scurvy, your gum health could still suffer if you have a vitamin C deficiency. You see, vitamin C is a key player in collagen synthesis. Together with its antioxidant properties, you need vitamin C for healthy gums.


Having diabetes increases your risk of tooth decay and gingivitis. And it doesn’t matter if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels can take a toll on your teeth and gums. So aside from being diligent when it comes to your dental care, you also have to manage your diabetes well. That means keeping your blood sugar levels within range. And letting your dentist know you have diabetes. Again, if you smoke, you should make every effort to stop. Not only does smoking increase your risk of gum disease. It can also lead to serious diabetes complications.


When you have severe gum bleeding, it may be due to a low platelet count or thrombocytopenia. Remember how platelets help blood clot? Without platelets, it’s impossible for your body to stop bleeding (external or otherwise). Some conditions that lead to thrombocytopenia are viral infections and leukemia. Heavy alcohol consumption and chemotherapy drugs could also cause a low platelet count. If your gums are bleeding and won’t stop, don’t wait to stop by your dentist whenever you get around to it. Call for emergency help asap.


Leukemia is a type of cancer affecting the blood and bone marrow. Patients with leukemia have white blood cells that do not mature in a normal manner. These “immature cells” are incapable of fighting infection including perioral ones. That’s one of the reasons why leukemia patients bleed from their gums. If you have leukemia though that’s no reason to neglect your dental health. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) recommends maintaining good oral hygiene as part of cancer care. For specialized dental health, your dentist might refer you to a dental oncologist.

Understanding Your Risk Factors

When you’re looking at causes of bleeding gums, you should also make sure to know gum disease risk factors. Here are 5 of them:


Gum disease is more common in older people. It could be because of medications that cause excessive dry mouth. As you know, saliva helps protect your teeth from bacteria. Also, maintaining daily self-care could be a challenge for some seniors. Lack of mobility might prevent them from visiting a dental office. Or even from practicing good oral hygiene in general.


Some people are more susceptible to gum disease. If you have a history of periodontal disease in your family, you need to be vigilant. Ask your dentist for early intervention if you have this family history.


We can blame stress for many health problems. This includes high blood pressure, cancer, and so on. You can add periodontal disease to that list as well. You see when you’re stressed, it becomes hard for your body to fight off infection. Consider various methods of stress-relief to lower your risk of gum disease.


Not all drugs will have an effect on your oral health. But antidepressants, oral contraceptives, and certain antihypertensives might. If you notice changes to your oral health, consult your dental care provider.


What happens when you clench or grind your teeth? Not much if you do it once in a blue moon. But when it’s frequent, you put a lot of force on the tissues that support your teeth. And this could hasten the destruction of periodontal tissues.

Worried About Your Bleeding Gums?

Let us help. We’ll take care of your bleeding gums – whether it’s because of gingivitis or periodontitis. For more information on our services, feel free to browse our site. You may also call us at 847-512-7990 if you’re looking for a dentist in Wilmette, Illinois, or on Chicago’s North Shore.