Why Your Gums are Bleeding When You Brush or Floss

At least 50 percent of adults deal with bleeding gums when they brush or floss their teeth.

Because this issue is so common, a lot of people assume that it’s not a big deal or that it’s par for the course when brushing your teeth. That’s definitely not the case, though.

The truth is that it’s not normal to deal with bleeding when brushing or flossing. This can also be a symptom of a much more serious issue, like gingivitis or periodontitis.

Read on to learn more about the causes of this issue, along with tips on how you can fix it.

What Causes Bleeding Gums?

There are a lot of potential explanations for why you’re experiencing gum bleeding while brushing your teeth. The following are some of the most common causes of gum bleeding:

Over brushing

Sometimes, your gums start to bleed because you’re brushing them too vigorously. While it’s important to scrub your teeth and gumline thoroughly, being too rough or using too much pressure can wear down your gum tissue and cause bleeding.

You might also experience bleeding if you’re using a toothbrush with bristles that are too firm for your gums.

How can you tell if you’re overbrushing?

Start by looking down at your toothbrush. Are your bristles frayed or bent? If they are, you’re likely being a little too zealous with your brushing.


Sometimes, changing the way you brush your teeth (or the tools you use when brushing) is all you need to stop your gums from bleeding. In other cases, though, bleeding is a symptom of a more serious issue, such as gingivitis.

Gingivitis is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. It is a dental disease that is brought on by plaque and bacteria buildup on the teeth and gums.

The plaque and bacteria cause inflammation and infection in the gums. This, in turn, leads to bleeding.

If gingivitis goes untreated for too long, it can progress to more advanced forms of gum disease, like periodontitis.


Some medications act as blood thinners. They cause you to bleed more easily, even when you’re doing everyday tasks like brushing your teeth.

Some of the medications that are most likely to contribute to bleeding gums include:

  • Anti-depressants
  • Heart medications
  • Oral contraceptives

If you’ve recently started a new medication and have just begun to notice that your gums are bleeding when you brush your teeth, the medication may be to blame.

Irregular Flossing

How often do you floss your teeth?

Only 30 percent of the U.S. population flosses on a daily basis. Thirty-seven percent say they floss “less than daily” and 32 percent say they never floss at all.

If you fall into the latter two camps, you’re more likely to experience bleeding when you do floss.

When you floss regularly, your gums get used to the pressure and become more resilient to it. If you’ve just started trying to make flossing a regular habit, you may notice some bleeding initially. But, it should subside within a couple of days.

People Most Likely to Deal with Bleeding Gums

Anyone can experience bleeding gums, but some people are more prone to the issue than others. The following factors greatly influence the likelihood that you will deal with bleeding:

  • Age: Gum bleeding and gum disease are most prevalent in older adults, especially senior citizens
  • Stress level: High levels of stress can make it harder for the body to fight off infections
  • Genetics: If you have family members who struggle with bleeding and gum disease, you’re more likely to experience it, too
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women are more likely to experience bleeding and gum disease as a result of various hormonal changes

Poor oral hygiene and tobacco use can also contribute to your risk of experiencing gum bleeding. Poor nutrition and habitually grinding or clenching your teeth can be problematic as well.

How to Stop Your Gums from Bleeding

If you’re experiencing bleeding gums whenever you brush or floss your teeth, following these guidelines can help you control the issue and prevent it from getting worse:

Improve Your Oral Hygiene

Start brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day, consistently. For many people, this, alone, is enough to get their bleeding gums under control.

Visit the Dentist

When was the last time you had a check-up? Get regular cleanings from your dentist to get rid of plaque and bacteria that could be contributing to the bleeding.

Clean Up Your Diet

The food you eat and drinks you consume play a big role in your oral health. Stop consuming — or at least reduce your consumption of — sugary foods and beverages and refined carbohydrates.

Sugar and carbohydrates feed the bacteria in your mouth. They also eat away at your enamel and increase your risk of cavities and gum disease.

Snack Less Frequently

Avoid snacking in between meals to minimize the amount of plaque and residue that’s hanging out on your teeth during the day.

Minimize Stress

If you have a stressful job or stressful home life, you could be making the inflammation and infection in your gums worse. Look for ways to slow down and relax to bring down your stress levels.

Quit Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

Smoking contributes to inflammation. It also introduces toxins into your body that stop your gums from getting the nutrients they need.

Avoid chewing tobacco, too. It can also lead to inflammation and make the infection in your gums worse.

Are You in Need of a Professional Cleaning?

There are a lot of different issues that can contribute to bleeding gums. But, no matter what the cause is, in order to stop your gums from bleeding and keep them healthy, you need to visit a dentist for regular cleanings.

If you’re in need of a new dentist and live in or around the Birmingham, Alabama area, we can help at Doug Lewis Dentistry today.

We offer a wide range of services here, from cleaning and prevention to cosmetic dentistry. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!