Bleeding Gums, Periodontal Health, and Systemic Health

Bleeding Gums St. George, UT

Patients who notice bleeding gums may have inadvertently caused the bleeding while maintaining good oral health with activities such as brushing and flossing, or these individuals may have spotted an insidious sign of disease or poor overall health. Gum health can reflect the well-being of a patient’s heart, hormones, nutritional status, and systemic health.

Why would a patient’s gums start bleeding?

Bleeding gums is not necessarily a sign of impending gum disease, but it often can signify that the gums, or other parts of the patient's body, are not healthy. Sometimes bleeding can be expected: Patients who are pregnant often notice blood coming from gums due to hormonal changes, while other people who take blood thinners may see gums bleed as an unwanted but minor side effect of the necessary medication. Causes of bleeding gums may include the following conditions:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications or supplements that cause changes in blood thickness
  • Flossing or brushing too vigorously
  • Blood cancers such as leukemia
  • Vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) or vitamin K deficiency

What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?

Gingivitis is a form of gum disease that involves gum inflammation as a result of the plaque buildup near the patient’s gumline. Gingivitis is reversible, but it may take specialized toothpaste, mouthwash, or more frequent cleanings to return the patient’s teeth and gums to a healthy state.

Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease that can often extend to include the teeth and jawbone. Patients can lose teeth if the condition becomes too advanced. It is recommended to see a dentist for frequent cleanings and ask questions of the dentist on a regular basis. Even if the concern about bleeding gums seems insignificant, it could signify a larger problem to the dental professional inspecting the patient’s mouth.

How can a dentist distinguish between causes of bleeding gums?

Bleeding gums can also be a sign of a major systemic illness. Untreated leukemia, very thin blood, and vitamin deficiencies can lead to life-threatening results. Ask a dentist whether gum issues are caused by flossing, an unrecognized plaque buildup from not brushing regularly enough, or if they could be a sign of a systemic issue.

Even early gum disease is important to treat swiftly. Periodontitis causes system-wide health consequences. The patient may lose teeth, suffer from tooth abscesses, or develop infections in the “pocket” left behind after a tooth falls out, which can escalate to a systemic infection if left untreated. Additionally, periodontitis has been linked to other conditions with a large inflammatory component, such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and respiratory diseases like pneumonia. Those with gum disease are much more likely to develop cancer as well.


Researchers are conducting studies to understand why people’s gums are so important to the human body’s overall health. It is advised to maintain good oral hygiene at home and keep up with twice-yearly dental cleanings even if nothing seems wrong. If a patient notices bleeding gums without a noticeable cause, it is important to consult with a dentist about the abnormality right away.

Request an appointment here: or call About Dental Care at (435) 359-0147 for an appointment in our St. George office.

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