Do Your Gums Bleed When Flossing?

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If your gums bleed when flossing, you probably need to change your dental care regimen a bit. That doesn't mean your mouth is unclean, but it can mean you need to floss more often. It's fairly 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 might feel like the opposite of what you should do, continue to floss daily.

Causes of Bleeding Gums

Several things can cause gums to bleed, including plaque buildup along the gumline and between teeth and plaque forming on top of calculus (tartar), thus contributing to gingivitis. Vitamin deficiencies can also contribute to bleeding gums. Plaque is a layer of sticky bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. If you don't get rid of plaque by flossing daily, it turns into a hard layer of calculus. It's hard to remove calculus without a dentist's or dental hygienists help through scaling the teeth. So, your first line of defense against bleeding gums should always be a visit with your dentist, who would be able to alert you if there's an underlying condition for your bleeding gums.

Other Ways To Treat Bleeding Gums

In addition to removing plaque, if your gums bleed when flossing, it may help to use a rinse to kill bacteria around the affected area. This keeps infection from spreading deeper into gums and the roots of your teeth. You can use home remedies, such as a salt water rinse, or purchase an antimicrobial oral rinse, such as Colgate PerioGard. Just make sure you swish the rinse thoroughly to rinse bacteria off your gums.

You should also make sure to eat a balanced diet to develop and maintain strong, decay-resistant teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice each day. If you're not sure you're brushing correctly, you can ask your dental hygienist for some tips, and if you smoke, consider options to help you quit. According to the American Dental Association, using tobacco increases your risk of developing periodontal disease.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.