Bleeding from the gums is a very common symptom/sign that will be experienced by almost everyone at some point in lifetime. It’s usually noticed during brushing of teeth or during a meal which causes minor abrasions in the linings of the mouth cavity. Gums may also bleed spontaneously. There are several causes of this phenomenon as we generally discuss them below

1. Poor dental hygiene

Poor oral hygiene causes plaque buildup along the gumline and this is the biggest cause of bleeding gums. This plaque hardens into tartar, a calcified material that plaque adheres to and continues to irritate the gums when not removed immediately. This can progress into more advanced forms of gum disease. Brush at least twice a day or after a meal using fluoride based toothpaste. You should floss once a day. Note that over-flossing a day can directly injure the gums and cause bleeding.

2. Poor choice of brushing & flossing materials

If you follow the above advice but still bleed in the gums, then consider what kind of tools you use for brushing or flossing. Toothbrushes with soft, medium or firm bristles gently clean your teeth and gums more deeply or thoroughly while those with harder bristles cause irritation leading gum bleeding.

In some cases, the tools you use might be the recommended ones but the way they are used is responsible for bleeding from the gums. Use gentle hand movements while brushing teeth and avoid pressing the floss against your teeth and gums too hard.

3. Poor diet

Cut down on consumption of foods that contain lots of sugar or simple carbohydrates because sugar creates an ideal environment for plaque formation. Take foods like vegetables and fresh fruits containing vitamin C, whose deficiency in turn causes Scurvy (a disease which manifests with bleeding gums). Remember to brush after every solid meal.

4. Medications

Some medications increase the likelihood of bleeding especially aspirin, warfarin and heparin regardless of the reason they were prescribed for. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are currently taking when you experience bleeding from the gums especially if it had never happened before.

5. Consult the dentist

Even after following all the above precautions, it’s still prudent to visit your dentist in case you experience any abnormalities originating from your mouth. Also get into the habit of regular dental checkups regardless of your oral status, not only when you seem sick!