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Updated on July 13, 2022

Bleeding Gums: Causes, Remedies and Treatment

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Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are a common issue and aren't always due to serious underlying diseases. Many people experience occasional bleeding from the gums due to: 

  • Aggressive flossing
  • Brushing teeth too hard
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Misusing toothpicks

However, bleeding gums can have more concerning underlying causes. It’s a typical symptom of gingivitis (mild or early-stage gum disease).1

With good oral hygiene habits and simple, at-home remedies, you might be able to treat and prevent gum bleeding.

woman puts teeth cream on his bamboo toothbrush

What Causes Bleeding Gums?

Many things can cause gums to bleed. Some demand more attention than others.

One common cause of minor gum bleeding is flossing, especially if you don’t floss regularly. Your gums might not be used to the light friction that flossing creates.

Bleeding gums can be a sign of gingivitis (mild gum disease) or periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Hemophilia and leukemia can also cause your gums to bleed.

Other causes of bleeding gums include:

  • Brushing or flossing too aggressively
  • Using a hard or worn toothbrush
  • Ill-fitting dental appliances or failing restorations, such as partial dentures or bridges
  • Blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, or poor blood clotting in general
  • Poor diet or vitamin deficiencies
  • Mouth injuries
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications (anti-seizure, blood pressure, and antidepressants)

Other Symptoms of Bleeding Gums

Depending on the cause, gum bleeding might occur along with other symptoms of inflammation, such as:1,2

  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that are dark red 
  • Gum recession
  • Halitosis (bad breath) or bad taste in your mouth
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Pus or fluid coming from gum tissue (periodontal abscess)
  • Fever (in cases of infection)

You may have some or all of these signs and symptoms if you’re suffering from gum disease. Your dentist can treat these signs and address their root cause.

8 Ways to Stop and Prevent Bleeding Gums

Here are eight ways to prevent and reduce gum bleeding:

1. Brush and Floss Properly

Minor gum bleeding is a common effect of flossing in people who don’t floss regularly. Your dentist may notice this when flossing your teeth during a routine cleaning.

By flossing regularly and using the proper technique, you can make bleeding less likely to occur.

Brushing your teeth too aggressively can also make your gums more likely to bleed. Brush gently, in soft circular motions, and make sure the toothbrush bristles aren’t too harsh on your teeth and gums.

Regular brushing and flossing will help prevent plaque buildup, which can lead to gum disease.

2. Apply Gauze or a Compress

Dampen a clean piece of gauze and gently hold it against your gums to stop the bleeding.

A cold compress or ice pack can also provide relief if you’re experiencing pain or swelling. Apply a cold compress to the skin (above the gums, not inside the mouth) for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. 

3. Rinse Your Mouth

An antiseptic or anti-plaque mouthwash will help reduce the oral bacteria and plaque that contribute to gingivitis.3

You can also try a warm salt rinse to relieve bleeding gums. There’s evidence that rinsing your mouth with warm salt water promotes healing in oral wounds.4

4. Apply Honey and Propolis

Applying high-quality honey to your gums after brushing might help treat or prevent gingivitis.5, 6 Honey has antimicrobial effects, and Manuka honey in particular might be helpful in fighting oral bacteria.7

Propolis, also sometimes known as bee glue, is another bee product that may yield benefits for your teeth and gums. One study found a 2% propolis rinse to have similar effects on gingivitis when compared to typical mouthwash.8

Note: These products aren’t meant to replace regular brushing and flossing. You’ll maximize the benefits of remedies like these by combining them with good oral hygiene.

5. Use Dental Products with Turmeric (Curcumin)

Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has been found to work as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent.9, 10

Studies evaluating gels and mouthwashes made with curcumin have found them to be similar to chlorhexidine mouthwash for preventing and treating gum disease.10, 11

You can apply a turmeric paste, whether store-bought or homemade, to your gums after brushing. This remedy shouldn’t replace regular oral hygiene practices.

6. Oil Pulling

Oil pulling with coconut oil might reduce oral bacteria that contribute to gum disease. Coconut oil contains the antimicrobial lauric acid, and has been studied as an oral hygiene supplement.12

Current research isn’t enough to confirm any benefits, and the American Dental Association (ADA) does not recommend oil pulling.13 But as a supplement to proper brushing and flossing, it may be worth trying.

7. Avoid Tobacco Products

Tobacco use is a risk factor for various oral health problems, including periodontal disease.14 By quitting smoking or otherwise using tobacco, you reduce your risk of developing inflamed or diseased gums.15

8. Improve Your Diet

Certain dietary choices can improve your oral health and reduce your risk of gum disease.

Studies suggest a link between high carbohydrate intake, especially that of sugar, and gum disease.16 Certain vitamin deficiencies may also contribute to poor oral and gum health.17

One study found that a diet low in carbohydrates and high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins C and D reduced gum inflammation over a period of 4 weeks.18

Your gums may benefit from including nutrient-rich foods in your diet and reducing your consumption of sugary and nutrient-poor foods.

When to See a Dentist for Bleeding Gums

While moderate, short-lived bleeding can be a common effect of flossing, your gums shouldn’t bleed regularly or excessively.

If your gums experience recurrent bouts of bleeding or show other signs of inflammation, visit your dentist. They can diagnose gum disease and recommend appropriate treatment.

If you’re in the early stages of gum disease, your dentist can help you prevent it from progressing to more advanced periodontitis.

A dental or periodontal abscess will not go away on its own. If you notice gum swelling or pus, this is another reason to see your dentist for prompt evaluation and treatment.

Diagnosis

To diagnose the cause of your bleeding gums, your dentist will examine your mouth and look for signs of inflammation or pathology. They may take measurements and X-rays to assess the extent of damage or disease.

Your dentist will also review your medical history to determine whether any medications or habits (such as smoking) are contributing to your gum bleeding.

Professional Treatments 

Gingivitis and less severe cases of periodontitis may be treated with a professional cleaning. The conventional deep cleaning procedure for gum disease is known as scaling and root planing.

Scaling removes buildup from your teeth and under your gums. Planing (smoothing) of the roots of your teeth will help prevent future tartar buildup. Both procedures will make routine dental care easier going forward.

Your dentist can also correct any problems you have with crowns or dentures, both of which can contribute to gum inflammation and sensitivity.

If you have an abscess or tooth decay in conjunction with gum disease, your dentist will address these issues as well. They might prescribe antibiotics to fight the bacteria affecting your gums.

If you have advanced periodontitis, you might require surgical treatment to restore or replace diseased gum tissue, as well as antibiotics.

Complications 

Because frequent or prolonged gum bleeding is often a symptom of gum disease, leaving it untreated can lead to further complications.

A mild case of gum disease, if not managed properly, can progress to more advanced stages. It can cause preventable pain and inflammation.

Advanced gum disease can lead to bone and tooth loss. It can also cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This can harm other parts of your body.

Outlook

Minor gum bleeding can often be managed at home. Proper oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, can prevent it.

More intense cases of gum bleeding may not resolve on their own. Your dentist can provide proper treatment to alleviate painful symptoms.

With prompt attention from a dental professional, gum disease and other causes of gum bleeding is both manageable and treatable.

Summary

Minor gum bleeding is relatively common and may not indicate any serious problems. Bleeding gums can, however, be a symptom of gum disease.

You can take steps at home to prevent and reduce gum bleeding and gum disease. Used in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing, certain traditional and herbal remedies may be helpful.

If you’re suffering from frequent or profuse gum bleeding, or you have other symptoms of gum disease, make an appointment with your dentist.

18 Sources Cited
Last updated on July 13, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  2. Periodontitis.” Mayo Clinic.
  3. Mythri, H et al. “The efficacy of antiseptic mouth rinses in comparison with dental floss in controlling interproximal gingivitis.Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry vol. 1,1 : 31-5. doi:10.4103/2231-0762.86385
  4. Huynh, Nam Cong-Nhat et al. “Rinsing with Saline Promotes Human Gingival Fibroblast Wound Healing In Vitro.PloS one vol. 11,7 e0159843. 21 Jul. 2016, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159843
  5. Otręba, Michał, et al. “Bee Venom, Honey, and Royal Jelly in the Treatment of Bacterial Infections of the Oral Cavity: A Review.Life, vol. 11, no. 12, Nov. 2021, p. 1311. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.3390/life11121311.
  6. Atwa, Al-Dany A et al. “Effect of honey in preventing gingivitis and dental caries in patients undergoing orthodontic treatment.The Saudi dental journal vol. 26,3 : 108-14. doi:10.1016/j.sdentj.2014.03.001
  7. Safii, Syarida H et al. "Periodontal Application of Manuka Honey: Antimicrobial and Demineralising Effects In Vitro." International Journal of Dentistry, vol. 2017, Article ID 9874535, 8 pages, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/9874535
  8. Bretz, Walter A et al. “The effectiveness of propolis on gingivitis: a randomized controlled trial.Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 20,12 : 943-8. doi:10.1089/acm.2013.0431
  9. Nagpal, Monika, and Shaveta Sood. “Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview.Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine vol. 4,1 : 3-7. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107253
  10. Pulikkotil, SJ and S Nath. “Effects of curcumin on crevicular levels of IL-1β and CCL28 in experimental gingivitis.” Australian Dental Journal vol. 60,3 : 317-327. https://doi.org/10.1111/adj.12340
  11. Pandey, Vijayendra et al. “Evaluation of Anti-plaque and Anti-inflammatory Effects of Oral Curcumin Gel as Adjunct to Scaling and Root Planing: A Clinical Study.International journal of applied & basic medical research vol. 11,2 : 90-94. doi:10.4103/ijabmr.IJABMR_391_19
  12. Woolley, Julian et al. “The effect of oil pulling with coconut oil to improve dental hygiene and oral health: A systematic review.Heliyon vol. 6,8 e04789. 27 Aug. 2020, doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04789
  13. Oil Pulling.” American Dental Association.
  14. Malhotra, Ranjan et al. “Nicotine and periodontal tissues.Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology vol. 14,1 : 72-9. doi:10.4103/0972-124X.65442
  15. Warnakulasuriya, Saman et al. “Oral health risks of tobacco use and effects of cessation.International Dental Journal, vol. 60,1 : 7-30. https://doi.org/10.1922/IDJ_2532Warnakulasuriya24
  16. Najeeb, Shariq et al. “The Role of Nutrition in Periodontal Health: An Update.Nutrients vol. 8,9 530. 30 Aug. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8090530
  17. Cagetti, Maria Grazia et al. “The Role of Vitamins in Oral Health. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 17,3 938. 3 Feb. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijerph17030938
  18. Woelber, JP, et al. “An oral health optimized diet can reduce gingival and periodontal inflammation in humans - a randomized controlled pilot study.BMC Oral Health vol. 17,28 . https://doi.org/10.1186/s12903-016-0257-1
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