Bleeding gums

Definition

Bleeding gums can be a sign that you have or may develop gum disease. Ongoing gum bleeding may be due to plaque buildup on the teeth. It can also be a sign of a serious medical condition.

Alternative Names

Gums - bleeding

Causes

The main cause of bleeding gums is the buildup of plaque at the gum line. This will lead to a condition called gingivitis, or inflamed gums.

Plaque that is not removed will harden into tartar. This will lead to increased bleeding and a more advanced form of gum and jaw bone disease known as periodontitis.

Other causes of bleeding gums include:

Home Care

Visit the dentist at least once every 6 months for plaque removal. Follow your dentist's home care instructions.

Brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristle toothbrush at least twice a day. It is best if you can brush after every meal. Also, flossing teeth twice a day can prevent plaque from building up and turning into tartar.

Your dentist may tell you to rinse with salt water or hydrogen peroxide and water, or a mouth rise designed to treat gum inflammation. Some rinses contain alcohol, so consult with your dentist prior to using one of these types.

It can help to follow a balanced, healthy diet. Try to avoid snacking between meals and cut down on the carbohydrates you eat.

Other tips to help with bleeding gums:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Consult your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums and ask you about the problem. Your dentist will also ask about your oral care habits. You may also be asked about your diet and the medicines you take.

Tests that may be performed include:

References

Chow AW. Infections of the oral cavity, neck, and head. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 64.

Hayward CPM. Clinical approach to the patient with bleeding or bruising. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 128.

Teughels W, Laleman I, Quirynen M, Jakubovics N. Biofilm and periodontal microbiology. In: Newman MG, Takei HH, Klokkevold PR, Carranza FA, eds. Newman and Carranza's Clinical Periodontology. 13th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019:chap 8.


Review Date: 1/22/2022
Reviewed By: Michael Kapner, DDS, General Dentistry, Norwalk Medical Center, Norwalk CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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