Bleeding After Brushing? See Your Dentist

Bleeding gums after you've brushed your teeth should lead you to ask a couple of questions. Did you brush or floss particularly hard—hard enough to cut your gums? If yes, be more careful next time. If no, move on to the next question: when was your last dental examination? If it's further in the past than you'll care to admit, you may have discovered the reason for your bleeding gums.

Direct Cause

When there's no obvious direct cause of your bleeding (such as direct, inadvertently strong force from a toothbrush or dental floss), you can generally assume it's bacterial in nature. Basically, the oral bacteria in your mouth have proliferated to the stage where a biofilm has formed on your teeth. Commonly known as plaque, this biofilm will eventually calcify and become tartar. Hardened tartar cannot be brushed away. The dental enamel it sits upon is being corroded, and the bacterial accumulation will begin to affect your gums.

Gum Stimulation

Your gums will become inflamed and infected and will bleed easily at the gingival margin (where your gums meet your teeth). These gum tissues require some stimulation to provoke bleeding, but only very light stimulation is needed. There doesn't need to be strong force from a toothbrush or dental floss, and even the lightest touch will cause bleeding due to the inflammation of your gum tissues. This inflammation is gingivitis and is likely to produce increasing amounts of blood after brushing—unless you seek treatment.

Tooth Scaling

Treatment is via a simple dental examination. Professional cleaning is a standard part of a dental examination, and your dentist will scale your teeth to remove tartar, which controls the amount of oral bacteria in your mouth with the ability to infect your gums. With no further contaminants irritating these tissues (for the moment), your gums should heal themselves without additional intervention.


For the moment, your gums are in the process of restoring themselves. To keep these gingival tissues healthy, you may have to pay more attention to your oral hygiene—including attending your regular dental examinations. Otherwise, your gingivitis will inevitably return, and despite its relative ease of treatment, it has the capacity to devastate teeth. Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, which can actually lead to tooth loss. 

So when you haven't been brushing or flossing hard enough to damage your gums (and perhaps haven't been brushing or flossing enough at all), don't delay—your bleeding gums need to be checked out by a dentist.

For more information about general dentistry, contact a local dental office.