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Why do my gums keep bleeding?

Dr Rakesh Jivan

Bleeding gums are a sign they need more cleaning, not less

A man wearing a beanie and weatherproof jacket smiles as he brushes his teeth
A man wearing a beanie and weatherproof jacket smiles as he brushes his teeth

Do you struggle to floss because your gums are swollen and tender? Does your toothpaste start turning pink when you brush your teeth?

Bleeding gums are common, and often no cause for concern, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the problem.

What causes my gums to bleed?

There are a number of reasons why gums bleed, including:

  • Vigorous tooth brushing or using a hard-bristled brush

  • Deficiencies of vitamins C and K

  • Pregnancy

  • Smoking

  • Certain medical conditions, including bleeding disorders

  • A build-up of tartar and plaque along the gumline. This creates an opportunity for bacteria to grow and create an inflammatory response, known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into a more advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis

Treating bleeding gums

As worrying as it can be to have bleeding gums, there’s a lot you can do to treat them and prevent a reoccurrence. The first step is to see your dentist for a careful assessment of your general health and whole mouth to rule out other oral health problems.

Your dentist may recommend a thorough clean of your teeth to remove built-up plaque along your gum lines. Generally, this is needed at least every six months, or more frequently if you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease. You may also be advised to make changes to your diet and dental routine.

For more advanced periodontal disease, your dentist may also recommend a referral to a gum disease specialist known as a periodontist.

Credit: nib health insurance

4 ways to manage bleeding gums

Bleeding gums are among the most common symptoms of gum disease, but they can also be a sign of more simple oral hygiene problems that are easier to fix. Here are some of the most effective ways to manage bleeding gums.

1. Brush and floss regularly

Brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily is your best preventative treatment strategy. Despite what you might think, bleeding gums are a sign they need more cleaning, not less.

2. See a dentist

Your dentist will be able to provide personalised advice. In addition to brushing and flossing, they will likely recommend using an antiseptic mouthwash or one with oxygenating compounds. This can help to reduce the bacteria in your mouth which thrive in areas where there is less oxygen. Saltwater mouthwashes can also be soothing and effective.

Related: What to expect from your first dentist appointment

3. Choose the right toothbrush

Using a hard-bristled toothbrush means a better clean, right? Wrong! Always use a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush and make sure you replace your toothbrush every three months. If you’re thinking about buying an electric toothbrush, talk to your dentist about whether it’s the right option for you.

Related: How often should you be replacing your toothbrush?

4. Make healthy food choices

Eating a nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals will help your body to stay healthy, including your gums. Foods rich in vitamin C support the body to heal, including strawberries, oranges, rockmelon, pineapple, tomatoes and leafy greens.

Ready to book an appointment with a dentist?

Start with your local nib Dental Care Centre which has 11 locations across NSW, ACT, VIC and QLD.

Alternatively, search for a dentist near you through nib's First Choice Network. This is a community of health providers who’ve agreed to provide nib members with quality healthcare. We recommend you and your family visit your dentist every six months for a check-up and more regularly if you have a concern.

At nib, we offer a range of Extras covers that include benefits for dental care. If you’re already an nib member, you can check your current policy using member account, opens in a new tab. Alternatively, you can get a quote online in just minutes.

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Dr Rakesh Jivan

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Dr Rakesh Jivan smiling

Dr Rakesh Jivan

Dr Rakesh Jivan is a general dental practitioner with close to two decades of clinical experience in private practice. He is the clinical director for education at Pacific Smiles Group responsible for practitioner support and continuing professional development for all practitioners working from Pacific Smiles Dental & nib Dental Care Centres in NSW, VIC, QLD & the ACT.