Sometimes brushing too aggressively or flossing incorrectly can cause your gums to bleed (Read more: Oral hygiene tips). At other times, biting into a hard fruit can do it. But more often than not, bleeding gums have an underlying cause.

The most common cause of bleeding gums is gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Plaque builds up in the teeth from food, mostly sweets, if they are not cleaned properly. This plaque hardens to become tartar, which is what causes inflammation.

If you brush and floss regularly, don’t eat too many sweets and visit your dentist regularly, you should not be experiencing bleeding gums. Following simple personal hygiene rules can usually resolve problems. However, if you experience undue pain and excessive bleeding, visit your dentist.

Home remedies can come in handy to quicken recovery time. But before we move to home remedies, there are some other changes you can make as well:

  • If you are using a worn-out toothbrush, change it. Older brushes are not as efficient at cleaning your teeth and any protruding bristles can hurt you, too.
  • Next, try switching to a toothbrush with softer bristles: your pharmacist or dentist can help you with this.
  • If you are on blood thinners, talk to your doctor about regularly bleeding gums.
  • If you are a smoker, try to quit as smoking can cause tooth decay and gum inflammation as well. (Read more: Effects of smoking on teeth, gums and mouth)
  • There are devices called irrigators that can dislodge bacteria from the gums. Ask your dentist if an irrigator is the right choice for you.

Here are some quick and easy ways to relieve bleeding gums:

  1. Rinse with warm salt water to treat bleeding gums
  2. Apply honey on bleeding gums
  3. Turmeric for relief from bleeding gums
  4. Use coconut oil for bleeding gums
  5. Use a cold compress for bleeding gums
  6. Try carrots and celery to prevent bleeding gums
  7. Eat more vegetables for bleeding gums
  8. Vitamin C to stop bleeding gums
  9. Avoid sugar for relief from bleeding gums

Warm water with salt can kill bacteria in the mouth. The salt can also help bring down any swelling.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water

How to do it:

  • Mix the salt in warm water (it should not be scalding hot).
  • Take a big sip of the saltwater but do not swallow it.
  • Swish the liquid around in your mouth for a minute or two and then spit.
  • You can do this several times a day.

A study on manuka honey showed that it could reduce plaque formation and help manage gum disease.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon manuka honey

How to do it:

  • Take the honey on your fingertips and massage it on your gums.
  • Ask your dentist how often you can do this and if it is recommended for you.

Turmeric is known to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. A small study published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology found that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may have similar effects as a mouthwash on oral health⁠—but this was not conclusive. More studies need to be done on the effects of turmeric on oral health specifically.

What you will need:

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder or fresh turmeric, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup water

How to do it:

  • Add the turmeric to water, and bring it to a boil.
  • Let the water cool slightly before using it as a mouthwash.

Oil pulling involves swishing an oil (often virgin coconut oil or edible oil of your preference) in your mouth for several minutes to discourage plaque buildup. Note that this is not recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and there is limited evidence that it works. A small study has shown that it may be better than a placebo when it comes to oral health, but the evidence is by no means substantive.

What you will need:

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (or edible oil of your choice)

How to do it:

  • Take the oil in your mouth and swish it around.
  • Try to do this for 15-20 minutes. This may be difficult in the beginning. But don't worry. Start with as much time as you are comfortable, and increase the duration over the next few days and weeks.

Applying ice to an inflamed area is always soothing. The ice also contracts blood vessels and reduces bleeding. If bleeding doesn’t stop after several minutes, go to the dentist.

Crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery may be useful because of the crunching movement they generate. This may dislodge trapped food items and bacteria and be beneficial to oral health. Plus, the saliva you generate will be beneficial as well.

This remedy is to prevent bleeding gums, rather than treat them.

A vitamin K deficiency can cause bleeding gums. Green leafy vegetables contain a high amount of various vitamins and minerals that contribute to your overall health, so you should include them as a part of your balanced diet.

Add cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale and spinach to your diet. If you eat eggs, fish and meat, then these are great sources of vitamin K, too.

Bleeding gums could be a sign of vitamin C deficiency. While scurvy (extreme vitamin C deficiency) is rare now, research has shown that a deficiency of vitamin C can also speed-up the progression of periodontal disease.

Eating a balanced diet with five servings of fruits and vegetables each day can help to avoid nutritional deficiencies. Some of the yummiest sources of vitamin C like mangoes, pineapples and kiwi fruit are also high in sugar; make sure you rinse your mouth after eating them.

While they taste great, food with excess sugar can increase plaque formation since sugar will attract bacteria. Make sure you rinse your mouth thoroughly after consuming sweets and never go to bed without brushing. When you sleep, saliva production is drastically reduced making it easier for bacteria to attack. Brushing before helps tide you over that period.

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References

  1. Thie NM, et al. The significance of saliva during sleep and the relevance of oromotor movements.. Sleep Med Rev. 2002 Jun;6(3):213-27. PMID: 12531122.
  2. Molan PC, et al. The effects of manuka honey on plaque and gingivitis: a pilot study.. J Int Acad Periodontol. 2004 Apr;6(2):63-7. PMID: 15125017
  3. Padma Reddy Madupu, et al. Comparative Evaluation of Antiplaque Efficacy of Coconut Oil Pulling and a Placebo, Among Dental College Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017 Sep; 11(9): ZC08–ZC11. PMID: 29207824
  4. Nath S, et al. Effects of curcumin on crevicular levels of IL-1β and CCL28 in experimental gingivitis.. Aust Dent J. 2015 Sep;60(3):317-27. PMID: 26219195.
  5. Medical News Today [Internet]. Healthline Media UK Ltd; How to stop gums from bleeding
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