Bleeding Gums: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Bleeding Gums: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Buildup of dental plaque causes bleeding gums, a common symptom of gingivitis, periodontitis and other forms of gums disease. But bleeding from your gums can also indicate other issues like teeth grinding, diabetes, hormone fluctuations and vitamin deficiencies.

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What are bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums are the most common symptom of gum disease. But it can also point to other health problems.

Occasional bleeding of the gums can be caused by brushing your teeth too vigorously or wearing dentures that don’t fit correctly. Frequent gum bleeding can also indicate more serious conditions.

Signs, Symptoms, and Causes

Why are my gums bleeding?

There are several reasons why your gums might bleed. In most cases, oral health-related issues cause it. But it can also be a symptom of other health conditions.

Dental causes include:

  • Poor oral hygiene.

  • Smoking.

  • Gingivitis (early-stage gum disease).

  • Periodontitis (moderate to advanced gum disease).

  • Trench mouth (severe gum disease).

Other causes include:

  • Diabetes.

  • Hormone changes during puberty, pregnancy or menopause.

  • Vitamin K deficiency.

  • Vitamin C deficiency or scurvy (a severe form of vitamin C deficiency).

  • Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants).

  • Pernicious anemia.

  • Thrombocytopenia.

  • Hemophilia.

  • Von Willebrand disease.

  • Oral herpes.


  • Stress.

  • Leukemia.

Treatment of bleeding gums

How do healthcare providers treat bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums treatment depends on the underlying cause. If bleeding gums result from gum disease, a dentist or periodontist (gum specialist) will recommend the appropriate treatment.

Common gum disease treatments include:

  • Improved oral hygiene at home.

  • Antibiotics.

  • Tooth scaling and root planing (deep dental cleaning).

  • Osseous surgery (to reduce the size of the pockets around your teeth).

  • Laser periodontal surgery.

If you have bleeding gums but don’t have gum disease, your healthcare provider will need to find out why your gums are bleeding. They may recommend testing to determine if you have diabetes, blood clotting disorders, vitamin deficiencies, or other underlying health conditions. Once you receive a diagnosis, your provider will recommend appropriate treatment.

How to stop bleeding gums at home

If you have bleeding gums that don’t improve within two weeks, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist. They can determine whether gum disease is the culprit.

In the meantime, here are some things you can try to stop bleeding gums at home:

  • Brush two to three times a day.

  • Floss once daily.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

  • Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.

  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash.

  • Avoid smoking.

What happens if you ignore bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums can worsen if you ignore them, especially if gum disease is the culprit. Left untreated, gum disease erodes the tissue, ligaments, and bone that support your teeth. This can lead to a continuing infection cycle, bad breath, and tooth loss.

If another health issue causes bleeding gums, your symptoms may worsen as the underlying condition worsens. It’s best to see a healthcare provider so they can give you a proper diagnosis and begin any necessary treatment

Can I prevent my gums from bleeding in the first place?

Yes, in many cases you can. To reduce your risk for bleeding due to gum disease, visit your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene at home.

You can’t prevent bleeding gums due to some other causes, like hormone changes, blood clotting disorders, or leukemia.

Additional Common Questions

What deficiency causes bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums can indicate a vitamin C or vitamin K deficiency.

When should I worry about bleeding gums?

Sometimes, your gums can bleed if you accidentally bite into something hard, like a chip. This usually isn’t a cause for concern. But if your gums randomly bleed without an apparent cause, it could mean you have gum disease or another underlying health condition. If your gums bleed for longer than two weeks or have additional symptoms like bad breath or swollen gums, you should talk to a healthcare provider.

How long can you go with bleeding gums?

While bleeding gums usually isn’t an emergency, you should talk to a healthcare provider if your symptoms linger for over two weeks. Waiting could cause any underlying conditions to worsen.

When to Call the Doctor

When should I see a healthcare provider?

Bleeding gums may go away on their own. But if the bleeding hasn’t stopped in two weeks, you should talk to a dentist or primary care physician. They’ll either recommend bleeding gums treatment (like a deep dental cleaning) or treatment for another underlying condition.

References & Resources

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Kelcey Loveland

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