Do Your Gums Bleed When Flossing?

It's fairly common for gums to bleed when you first start flossing between the teeth; as long as the bleeding stops quickly, this is not usually considered problematic. It's a good idea to have your dentist check your mouth for gum or periodontal diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis, which are common and treatable. This article will provide information on causes and possible remedies and treatments.

Have you noticed your gums bleeding after you floss? Don't panic! Bleeding could mean you need to floss more often. It's relatively common for gums to bleed when you first begin flossing between teeth, and as long as the bleeding stops quickly, it's not usually considered a problem. While it may feel counter-intuitive, you should continue to floss daily. However, if you're a long-time flosser, there could be another issue at play. It's a good idea to have your dentist check your mouth for gum or periodontal diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis, which are common and treatable. Gingivitis is the reversible form of the disease, and periodontitis is the more severe form of the disease resulting in loss of the bone that supports the teeth in your jaw. If you are a long-time flosser and notice bleeding, your gum health might need attention.

Causes of Bleeding Gums

Several things can cause gums to bleed when flossing:

  • Rough flossing or improper flossing technique.
  • New to regular flossing? Some bleeding is normal and should clear up in about a week.
  • Poor nutrition — and specifically, a vitamin C deficiency — can also contribute to bleeding gums.
  • If you are taking a new medication and noticing consistent bleeding when flossing, you may want to talk to your physician. The use of blood-thinning medications can sometimes exacerbate the issue.
  • If your gums are inflamed, you may have gingivitis or a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Plaque, as well as tartar build-up, are direct causes of gingivitis and form when you don't have proper daily brushing and flossing habits.
  • Pregnancy gingivitis – changes to estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy increases the risk for developing gingivitis and periodontitis. Proper brushing and flossing can help with tender, bleeding gums during pregnancy. Be sure to let your dentist and physician know, and they may recommend professional cleanings.
  • Smoking and some medical conditions can increase the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis in susceptible individuals. These conditions include diabetes, drug abuse, HIV infection, autoimmune diseases and stress. It is important to note that some smokers will not bleed even though they can have significant periodontal disease.

Bleeding Gums Remedies

If the reason your gums are bleeding during flossing is gingivitis, there are remedies for improving the condition. According to SingHealth, gingivitis is the earliest and mildest form of gum disease. The good news is this is very common and reversible with a thorough professional dental cleaning and a good daily oral hygiene program. Plaque is the primary cause of gingivitis — the bacteria in plaque irritates and infects the gums, causing tenderness and swelling. Getting rid of this sticky substance through daily brushing and flossing and regular professional cleanings can often be enough to treat gingivitis. Your dentist may recommend that you come in more frequently than every six months to help manage plaque build-up and monitor your oral health.

If your gingivitis goes untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. Unlike gingivitis that affects your gums, the bone and support around your teeth may recede as your immune response tries to fight the bacteria in periodontitis. It is vital to see your general dentist or periodontist, a dentist specialising in treating patients with periodontitis, for professional treatment. They may recommend a treatment known as scaling and root planing. Scaling involves removing plaque and tartar from teeth and from under the gum line. Root planing is a procedure that involves scaling the root surface to remove plaque and tartar from it.

It may also help to use a rinse to kill bacteria in hard-to-reach areas. You can discuss with your dentist for them to recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription rinse.

You should also eat a balanced diet to develop and maintain healthy gums and strong teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice each day, floss once a day, and use mouth rinse as needed to ensure a healthy mouth. If you're unsure how to brush your teeth correctly, ask your dentist for some tips; if you smoke, consider options to help you quit.

Dental Checkups and Your Gums

Your first line of defense against bleeding gums should always be a visit to your dentist. The Ministry of Health recommends seeing your dentist if your gums hurt or bleed while brushing or flossing. If your medical history, including any medications, contributes to your bleeding gums, your dentist can reach out to your physician to discuss ways to work together to resolve this problem.

Seeing your gums bleed during flossing can be startling, but in most cases, there's nothing to worry about, as the problem can be resolved easily as long as you follow up with your dentist. Keep up your daily brushing and flossing habits, and if the problem persists, your dental professional will be there to help. Remember, flossing is an essential part of oral hygiene and can help keep your mouth healthy.