What Causes Bleeding Gums?

If you have bleeding gums, a likely cause is gingivitis — inflammation of the gums that can cause them to bleed easily when you brush. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious condition, periodontal disease, which means your gums are infected. Periodontitis affects the gum tissue that holds your teeth in place, as well as the bone. It can lead to recurring gum abscesses, loss of bone, and, eventually, loss of a tooth or teeth. 

What’s the good news? You can reverse gingivitis with proper brushing and flossing and your dentist’s care. Roge Jacob, DDS and Magdalena Azzarelli, DDS at Hillsdale Dental Care in San Jose, California, provide state-of-the-art dental care, including periodontal treatment

Why do bleeding gums and gingivitis develop?

Gingivitis is usually a sign that you have excess plaque, a film of bacteria that has hardened, on your teeth. The plaque causes an immune response that destroys gum tissue. Why does this happen? Below is our list of the most common reasons why you have bleeding gums. 

Brushing too hard

If you use a hard toothbrush, or if you brush too forcefully, you could literally be brushing away your gums. At the least, they can become irritated, inflamed, and bleed. 

Over time, the gum tissue may recede so that you see more of your tooth than is normal. Receding gums allow more bacteria to get trapped in your mouth, as well as travel throughout your body, affecting your overall health. Heart disease, among other conditions, has been linked to gum disease.  

Poor oral hygiene

No one likes to admit that they don’t have good oral hygiene, but maybe you’ve been lax lately. If you do shift work and your sleep cycle is disrupted, it’s tempting to skip brushing and flossing after you’ve worked for 12 hours. Having your teeth professionally examined and cleaned twice a year can help you hit the restart button in taking care of your oral health.  


If you smoke, you’re more susceptible to gingivitis. Dr. Jacob and Dr. Azzarelli can recommend smoking cessation programs and explain the negative consequences of smoking on your oral health. 


As you grow older, your risk for gingivitis increases. That’s because cells don’t reproduce as quickly, and tissue isn’t as strong as when you’re young.


Family history plays a role in gingivitis and periodontitis. If close family relatives have had this dental issue, you’re more likely to have it too. 

Poor-fitting dentures

If you have dentures or partial dentures, they may loosen over time and irritate your gums. 


Some medications such as blood thinners can increase the risk of bleeding gums. Dr. Jacob and Dr. Azzarelli review all of the medications you take to determine if you’re at risk. 

Our dental team uses the most advanced treatments available, including laser gum therapy, to combat gingivitis and periodontal disease. If you have bleeding gums, don’t wait until things get worse. Call us at 408-444-8069 to book an appointment today.

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