What does it mean when my gums bleed?

We’ve all had the experience of the occasional bleeding of gums while brushing, but it always triggers a question of why this is so. Bleeding is generally not considered a good thing, and the same holds true for your gums. However, before you rush out to the ER, know that bleeding gums can be a sign of something serious, but not always.

Non-serious Causes

For instance, brushing or flossing too hard can cause your gums to bleed. Irregular brushing and flossing can also cause it. If you are the occasional flosser, simply visiting the dentist for a simple cleaning can cause your gums to bleed, because your gums haven’t been “toughened” up from proper brushing and flossing.

Believe it or not, if you have been using a toothbrush that either has too soft of bristles or severely worn down bristles, changing your toothbrush can cause your gums to bleed for the same reason as mentioned above.

Bleeding gums can also be the result of other medical conditions. Hormone changes in pregnancy are well known for causing gums to bleed more often than before, even if the expecting mother brushes and flosses regularly. Also, if you’re on blood thinners such as Coumadin, this is a common side effect.

Serious Causes

Bleeding gums can also be a sign that you are developing or already have periodontal disease. Persistent bleeding gums often occur from inadequately removed plaque at the base of the teeth. If this continues, it will develop into gingivitis, which if not treated, will turn into periodontal disease.

Even more serious causes can include blood and platelet disorders such as anemia, scurvy, and leukemia. However, you will have numerous other signs that it could be blood disorder.


Proper dental care will prevent most non-serious and even some serious causes of bleeding gums. Brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, change your toothbrush regularly, and visit your dentist for a cleaning twice a year. Another tip is to avoid using alcohol-based mouthwashes, as the alcohol will aggravate the gums.

Seek medical attention if your gums continue to bleed despite treatment, if you have chronic bleeding, or if you have other unexpected symptoms.

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