Ask the Dentist!

Why do my gums bleed?

See if this sounds familiar – your dental check-up is tomorrow and you haven’t been flossing like you should so you give your teeth a good flossing and brushing to catch-up for the last six months. You rinse, spit and wow, look at all the blood. You say, no big deal, my gums usually bleed when I brush anyway, right? Wrong! If you woke up one morning and your ears were bleeding would you be worried? Of course you would. Gums should not bleed, even when you floss. There are many reasons why gums bleed and in this article I will cover the most common ones I see day to day.


Gingivitis is a chronic inflammation of the gums characterized by swollen, red gums that bleed easily. The most common cause is the accumulation of plaque that builds up around and in between the teeth and remains there long enough to cause inflammation to form. Gingivitis can be mild, moderate or severe and is the precursor to destructive periodontal disease. As many as 50 percent of Americans suffer from some form of gingivitis. Daily flossing and brushing is typically all that is needed to treat gingivitis along with regular dental visits.


When left untreated gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, a destructive form of gum disease.  At this stage, the bone and gum around the teeth are destroyed, which, in time, will lead to tooth loss.  Periodontal disease not only affects the mouth but can have devastating effects on the body.  Recent studies have shown a direct link between untreated periodontal disease and heart disease.  Each year more than 600,000 people die of heart disease.   Periodontal disease can be treated by either your dentist or in severe cases a periodontist, a gum specialist. 


Although gingivitis and periodontitis are forms of gum infections, infections of the tooth or the gum around a single tooth can cause bleeding.  Tooth abscesses from deep decay can cause the gum to swell and bleed.  Something caught under the gum, such as a popcorn husk, can cause the same problems.  Tooth infections may have to be treated with a root canal in severe cases.  Things caught under the gum may be treated by quick dental visit or simply flossing.

Healthy gums should not bleed.  Daily flossing, brushing and regular dental check-ups will keep your teeth and gums in tip top shape.  Have a question? Send us an email, give us a call or visit our website at     

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