Why are my gums bleeding? What do I do?

29th November 2018 | Posted by: Vanessa Giraud

You’re not alone. 8 out of 10 people over 35 have gum problems. Bleeding gums are definitely not healthy, however. So, even if you’re anxious about going to the dentist, now’s the time to call and book an appointment. The sooner you get professional advice and help, the easier it’ll be to have a healthy mouth again.

Why are my gums bleeding?

The most common reason for gums bleeding is a build up of plaque along the gum-line. Plaque is a filmy mass of bacteria. It builds up and sticks, especially along the gum-line and between teeth. With time, if you don’t clean it away effectively, it hardens into a more yellowy substance called tartar, or calculus. Once plaque has hardened it is even more difficult to remove.

A build up of plaque, of tartar, irritates the gums, causing sensitivity, inflammation and bleeding. Spitting blood when you brush is the most obvious sign there’s a problem with the health of your gums. It’s a good indicator that you need to see your dentist.

How can I prevent bleeding gums?

photo shows oral hygiene tools to stop gums bleedingIt is a cliché, but it’s true – prevention is better than cure. If you do spit blood, then revise your home oral hygiene routine. Flossing more often helps remove plaque. At first, it may seem that your gums bleed more, but it will make a difference!

However good your home hygiene is, the chances are some plaque in hard to reach places will turn into tartar. This is why gum problems increase with age.

Even if you have a good oral hygiene routine, some patients are at higher risk of developing periodontic problems.

Additional risk factors are:

Patients in these categories will need to invest even greater time and care in their oral hygiene.

What if I’ve left it a long time, and my gums are really sore?

If you feel self-conscious or embarrassed about visiting a dentist, or you’re worried you’re going to be told off for not brushing enough, please don’t be. It’s best to share your concern so your dentist can help you to overcome any anxiety or fear.

Remember that your dentist will have seen much worse teeth than yours. And it’s not the dentist’s job to be judgemental, but to help you.

The dentist will:

Are there other signs of gum disease?

Apart from bleeding gums, other symptoms are: bleeding gums shows blood in saliva on a toothbrush in a basin.

What happens if I don’t go to the dentist?

Think of the dentist’s work as reconditioning your mouth, giving it a good overhaul to be road-worthy. With work done, it’s easier to keep your mouth running with more reliability until it’s time for another check-up.

Without intervention, things gradually get worse until they break down.

If only gum disease was as painful as a root infection, for example, more people would see their dentist sooner. The discomfort develops gradually, and because it is usually low level it’s tolerable. Yet the bacteria are harming the structures of the mouth, and can also infect the rest of the body too.

Left untreated periodontitis will exacerbate other health problems. It is linked with diabetes and heart conditions, in particular.

What if I’m a smoker?

If you’re a smoker you probably won’t have bleeding gums, because smoking alters the flow of blood to the gums. This means the gums of smokers are more prone to infection, yet less likely to bleed.

Moreover, treatment for periodontal disease is less successful in smokers whose gums are less likely to heal after periodontal treatment or surgery, such as gum grafts to repair receded gums.

People who give up smoking often experience bleeding from their gums, as the blood supply improves, and the irritation from plaque or tartar is expressed. It’s definitely worth giving up smoking if you want to improve your oral health.

Is it worth making a fuss?

You won’t be making a fuss. A little blood in your spit may not seem like it’s anything too important, but it is a symptom and you should do something about it.

Ask yourself:

Gum disease may not be totally preventable but it can be kept under control with good oral care.


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April, 2021

Yes, we're open!

During the current restrictions we're here to help you receive the face-to-face care you need from your dental team.

Access our free remote advice and triage service:

Private patient charges:

Patients booking new appointments will be charged at the new April rates, which are currently being updated on our website. The good news is that for new patient plans there is no longer a coronavirus surcharge on top of the treatment fees:)

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Patients often ask: