Oral Care Tips for Parents

Why Do My Child’s Gums Bleed When Brushing?

Do your child’s gums bleed when brushing? If you’ve noticed some red on your child’s toothbrush or some blood when your child spits after brushing, you’ve no doubt been alarmed. That’s natural. For most of us, blood indicates a problem, which can certainly be true regarding oral hygiene. However, not all blood that appears when a child is brushing is cause for alarm. It might just indicate a reason to make a change of some sort. But, in other instances, it can be indicative of a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

Consider this list of the common causes of bleeding gums amongst children.


Sometimes a toothbrush is a reason for bleeding gums, especially a new toothbrush. Bristles that are still firm from non-use can make gums bleed. In addition, if you’re buying a toothbrush that isn’t labeled “soft”, it’s likely too firm for your child anyway. Toothbrushes with soft bristles are appropriate until and even into adulthood simply because they are kinder to teeth and gums.

You’ll also want to make sure your child isn’t brushing too aggressively or for too long (though that’s rarely a problem with kids). Applying too much pressure can also cause gums to bleed.


Most pediatric dentists maintain that it’s fine to start flossing when your child is about two. If you begin that routine at an early age, it will likely continue into adulthood. However, a new flossing routine will certainly cause some minor bleeding, but it should subside in a week or so. If you notice that the bleeding is continuing or seems heavier than it should talk to your dentist.


Some medicines, like anticoagulants, will cause gums to bleed. Obviously, however, it’s important to continue with those medications so you’ll just need to adjust your child’s brushing and make sure it’s gentle and not too aggressive.

In addition, there are medications that can dry out the mouth and also cause gums to become inflamed, sometimes resulting in bleeding. These might include certain asthma inhalers, antihistamines, anti-anxiety meds, isotretinoin (for acne), and several others. Again, if this is the case, be sure you or your child isn’t brushing too hard.

Periodontal disease

Excessive plaque buildup can cause gum – or periodontal – disease, especially when kids get a little older. And plaque buildup happens due to a less-than-ideal oral hygiene routine.

Sadly, the American Association of Pediatric Dentists reports that about half of children between the ages of 3 and 4 suffer from gingivitis and nearly everyone has gum problems by adolescence. With good brushing habits, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, these numbers could be greatly reduced.

To learn more about bleeding gums and how you can prevent periodontal disease, talk to one of our pediatric dentists at Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry at (907)562-1003 for more information or to set up an appointment today!

Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry

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Anchorage Pediatric Dentistry

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