Does Plaque Cause Gums to Bleed


Bacteria (also known as plaque), tartar, food and dental work are the 4 main irritants that cause gums to bleed.

Plaque irritates the gums because it is a colony of harmful bacteria that make the gums raw and painful.

Plaque is the sticky, nearly invisible film of bacteria that continually forms in your mouth.  It’s the stuff that makes teeth “feel fuzzy” to the tongue and is most noticeable around areas that are missed when brushing.

Plaque builds up on:

  • the teeth
  • dental restorations (fillings, crowns, and dentures, for example)
  • the gums
  • the tongue

Plaque that is removed every 24 hours (usually the “easy to reach with a toothbrush” areas of your mouth) does little to no harm to your body, gums and teeth, but when plaque sticks to itself and feeds on carbohydrates it multiplies both in size and the amount of harmful bacteria.

As plaque is feeding on carbohydrates, it becomes very acidic.  The acid spike lasts for 20 minutes after you finish eating.

Side note:  This is why frequent snackers tend to get cavities.

As plaque builds up it becomes a yellowish film of tiny food particles and bacteria.  Plaque that sits for too long may look orange, green, grey, and let me tell you, when plaque sits and matures, PEE-YEW, that stuff is stinky!

Fermenting carbohydrates mainly feed plaque, not all carbohydrates ferment.

Fermenting carbohydrates include:

  • bread
  • pasta
  • cakes, cookies and pastries
  • soft drinks
  • candy
  • crackers, pretzels and potato chips
  • bananas
  • breakfast cereals and
  • rice
  • potatoes

So the reasons that plaque causes your gums to bleed are:

  1. plaque is live bacteria that irritates the gums.
  2. the acids that are produced when the bacteria in plaque are feeding is also causing irritation to the gums.
  3. plaque sticks on to the tooth, but irritates the gums which is why this becomes such an issue; the body cannot push out the plaque because it is stuck to the tooth.
  4. as plaque multiplies and grows it causes the gum tissue and bone to pull away from the irritant, this causes what is called “deeper pockets” or “bone loss”.

*Important takeaway:  Plaque only becomes an issue when it sits for too long and starts to party with other plaque; they get messy, they multiply, they go crazy and wreak havoc. 

A toothbrush used effectively can be the greatest tool that you can use in your mouth.  Why?  Because, the plaque that removal happens when the toothbrush bristles cleans each area of the tooth and massages the gums at the gums at the same time is mostly what you need.

When the plaque is gone, the bleeding goes away.

Knowing how to adapt your toothbrush to each area is the key to good plaque control….yes, it really is that easy!

Watch yourself in the mirror the next time you brush.  Do you pay special attention and make sure that you get to all of the areas of your tooth and gums, or are you on autopilot and use the same routine each time?

Leave a comment, and let me know if this has sparked any thought with you?  I know it’s against the grain, but it really can be that easy if you know what to use, and more importantly how to use it.

If you want to learn more about how to control plaque and bleeding gums, the please visit