Why do my gums bleed?

I often hear this question, and patients often think that if their gums are bleeding when they brush them, then it must mean that they are brushing too hard.

Actually the opposite is true; if your gums bleed when you brush, it generally means that you need to brush them more effectively (although not necessarily “harder”). Think of bleeding gums as a cry for help.

So just scrub a bit harder then?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple, you can brush too hard as well as not hard enough. This is one of the reasons that dentists and hygienists often recommend electric toothbrushes – they have just the right amount of “scrub” to remove all the plaque, whilst at the same time not damaging the gums. For more specific brushing advice – see our

What’s the big deal – they might bleed, but they don’t hurt?!

Bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease, which is often entirely painless. This can cause otherwise healthy teeth to lose support and eventually fall out. So, whether or not you feel pain gives you no indication of the health of your teeth and gums. The good news is that gum disease, in its very early stages (gingivitis), is completely reversible. So when you see the warning signs, it typically means that you need a professional hygienist clean to remove all the plaque and tartar below the gum.

As dental professionals, our role is to treat dental disease; but really the true measure of success for us should be promotion our patients’ good oral heath. I believe that as dentistry continues to progress, in the 21st century we will be spending more time preventing dental disease, and (I hope) less time treating it.

If you have any questions about this or any other dental issues, please call or email us your questions for free, no obligation advice. Alternatively, you can arrange a consultation with one of our dentists for a more personalised consultation.

1) Can tooth loss really lead to dementia?

A recent study found that people with fewer teeth had a higher risk of experiencing memory loss or early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. This may be because the gum infections that can cause tooth loss may release chemicals that increase the brain inflammation which leads to earlier memory loss. The four signs to watch out for are a) memory loss, b) repeating yourself  and c) memory loss

2) What are the tell-tale signs of gum disease?
Visit your dentist or hygienist if you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, which can include:
• Inflammation of the gums, causing them to be red, swollen and to bleed easily, especially when brushing.
• An unpleasant taste in your mouth.
• Bad breath.
• Loose teeth.
• Regular mouth infections.
3) Can exercise help to prevent gum disease?
A recent study has shown that people who stay fit and healthy are 40% less likely to develop tooth-threatening gum infections that could lead to gum disease. It also found that not exercising, not keeping to a normal body weight and unhealthy eating habits make a person much more likely to get advanced gum disease. People wearing dentures lose up to 90% of chewing function.
4) How can I help to stop my gum disease getting worse?
If you have gum disease, your dentist or hygienist will usually give your teeth a thorough clean to remove any plaque or tartar. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist.
We can also show you how to remove the soft plaque yourself, by cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth thoroughly at home. (See the periodontitis section of our website for more info). 
Gum disease is never cured. But as long as you keep up the home-care AND QUIT SMOKING, you can slow down its progress and even stop it altogether. You must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist, typically every 4 months.
5) Could gum disease affect my unborn baby?
Pregnant women who have gum disease may be over three times more likely to have a baby that is premature and so has a low birth weight. There is a one-in-four chance that a pregnant woman with gum disease will give birth before 35 weeks.
It seems that gum disease raises the levels of the chemicals that bring on labour. Research also suggests that women whose gum disease gets worse during pregnancy have an even higher risk of having a premature baby.
Having gum disease treated properly during pregnancy can reduce the risk of a premature birth.
6) How could diabetes affect my dental health?
People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease than people without it. This is probably because diabetics are more likely to get infections in general. People who do not know they have diabetes, or whose diabetes is not under control, are especially at risk.
If you do have diabetes it is important that any gum disease is diagnosed, because it can increase your blood sugar. This would put you at risk of diabetic complications.
Also, if you are diabetic, you may find that you heal more slowly. If you have a problem with your gums, or have problems after visits to your dentist, discuss this with your dentist before you have any treatment.
New research has also shown that you are more likely to develop diabetes if you have gum disease.
If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of losing teeth.
7)What is the link between gum disease and strokes?
Several studies have looked at the connection between mouth infections and strokes. They have found that people who have had a stroke are more likely to have gum disease than people who have not had one.
When the bacteria that cause gum disease get into the bloodstream, they produce a protein. This can cause inflammation of the blood vessels, and this can block the blood supply to the brain. This can cause a stroke.
8)How can the health of my mouth affect my heart?
People with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease than people without gum disease. When people have gum disease, bacteria from the mouth can get into their bloodstream. The bacteria produce protein. This can then affect the heart by causing the platelets in the blood to stick together in the blood vessels of the heart. This can make clots more likely to form. Blood clots can reduce normal blood flow, so that the heart does not get all the nutrients and oxygen it needs.
 If the blood flow is badly affected this could lead to a heart attack.
9 ) How can I tell if I have bad breath?
Lots of small signals can show that you have bad breath. Have you noticed people stepping away when you start to talk? Do people turn their cheek when you kiss them goodbye? 

If you think you might have bad breath, there is a simple test that you can do. Simply lick the inside of your wrist and sniff – if the smell is bad, you can be pretty sure that your breath is too. 

Or, ask a very good friend to be absolutely honest, but do make sure they are a true friend, (or a complete and total stranger you will never meet again)
10) Could the health of my mouth affect my general health?
Yes. There are new findings which support something that dental professionals have suspected for a long time: infections in the mouth can cause problems in other parts of the body.

baby teeth and permanent teeth

Many parents very understandably become alarmed when they look in their child’s mouth and see the new permanent teeth growing up behind the baby teeth.
Whilst this is not the most aesthetically pleasing of stages for your child’s teeth, please be assured that permanent teeth coming through behind baby teeth is not an emergency!

Ordinarily, as the permanent teeth push up, the roots of the baby teeth become dissolved due to the pressure from the erupting permanent teeth, and the baby tooth eventually falls out, allowing the permanent teeth to come in well aligned.

shark teeth

However, sometimes the baby teeth don’t want to leave the mouth, and the permanent teeth come in right behind them. This condition is technically known as “Lingually erupting mandibular incisors” and more commonly known as “shark teeth”.
Other theories as to why this occurs is suggested to be due to much crowding in the lower jaw, or their position is simply a slight deviation from normal and they just didn’t make it as far forward as they should have.
This has been reported to occur in approximately 10% of children at some stage. Luckily, most times this “shark tooth” appearance, and the double layer of teeth will resolve on its own with the baby teeth eventually falling out.

over crowded teeth

If your child’s shark teeth don’t resolve on their own within a couple of weeks, it would be a good idea to have your dentist take a look at what’s going on. Your child’s dentist will be able to remove the lingering baby teeth from your child’s mouth if needed, and this usually resolves the problem.

Please bear in mind that very often teeth come in pairs, so if one tooth is not coming in correctly its partner on the other side won’t either.

children's teeth

We’re probably all guilty of it: we think that if something’s not bothering us right now then it’s easy to forget about it. Unfortunately, people with dental health problems, even completely painless ones, may be putting themselves at more risk than they realise.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal (gum) disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without. The relationship is not completely understood, but we know that people with healthy mouths are more likely to have healthy hearts and vice versa. Having periodontal disease can also increase your risk of stroke.

How to prevent gum disease?
Regular dental/hygienist appointments and a good home care brushing routine including flossing or inder-dental brushes to clean in between teeth. It’s that simple!


Women who are trying to become pregnant should prioritise their dental health, after recent research has shown that gum disease potentially can lengthen the time it takes for a woman to become pregnant by an average of an extra two months. For the first time, fertility experts have shown that, from the time that a woman starts trying to conceive, poor oral health can have a significant effect on the time to pregnancy.

And if a mum to be has untreated gum disease, she may be more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.

How to prevent periodontal (gum) disease?
Regular dentist/hygienist appointments and good home care including flossing and or interdental brushes to clean between teeth.