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You’re trying to keep your promise to your dentist by flossing your teeth every night. When you remove the string of floss from your mouth, you notice a trace of blood. When you spit and then check your mirror, you ask yourself, why are my gums bleeding? Is this because I’m flossing too hard or do I have a more serious health condition? There are several reasons you may have bleeding gums. Take a look at five common conditions.


Periodontal disease

This is a serious condition that inflames the gum tissue supporting the teeth. This causes the gums to recede and teeth may loosen and eventually fall out, which is why it’s important to get help in its earlier stages, when it’s most treatable. Periodontal disease is caused by the long-term effects of plaque, tartar and bacteria build-up on your teeth. Symptoms include:

  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Receding gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Change in the way your dentures fit
  • Consistent bad breath
  • A persistent bad taste in your mouth

The good news is that periodontal disease is treatable. Your dentist can perform a deep cleaning, where plaque and bacteria are removed from beneath the gum line. As a result, the ligaments holding your teeth in place strengthen, preventing tooth loss. The American Dental Association has a wealth of information, including educational videos, on gum disease at their website.

Brushing too hard

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the answer. Heavy-handed brushing or flossing can cause bleeding gums. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Wow! That’s a mouthful. This disorder causes excessive bleeding and bruising due to low levels of platelets. Platelets are cells that help your blood form clots. This disease can affect children and adults, and while children can fully recover without treatment, for most adults, it’s a chronic condition. Treatment varies, but it starts with a thorough evaluation of symptoms and a platelet count. Depending upon the test results, medication or surgery may be needed.

Hormonal conditions

When your hormones fluctuate, your gums are more susceptible to bleeding. Women are particularly vulnerable. During puberty, the increase in sex hormones causes an increase in gum sensitivity due to increased blood circulation. Women who are pregnant or menopausal may also have gums that bleed more often than normal. Some women even experience menstruation gingivitis. Gingivitis is a type of gum disease laser treatment. This type of gingivitis starts before a woman’s period and clears up when it ends.


Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells and affects both children and adults. Normally, your body’s white blood cells efficiently fight disease, but in leukemia, the bone marrow produces white blood cells that don’t work. There are several different types of leukemia, and treatment must be tailored accordingly. There are several other causes for bleeding gums, including blood thinners and vitamin deficiencies. If you experience bleeding gums, let your dentist know. Depending upon your other symptoms, he or she may wish to refer you to another physician for blood tests and further evaluation. Dental Express offers dental care for the entire family, including SmileCorrect, implants, emergency dental care and maintenance services. Our practice features compassionate care coupled with state-of-the-art dentistry at four convenient locations in San Diego: DowntownPoint LomaClairemont and Santee. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.