A woman is flossing her teeth

If Your Gums Bleed When You Floss, Should You See Your Dentist?

If you've noticed your gums bleed when you floss, you'd be right to be a little concerned about your oral health. But should you be so worried that you visit your trusty dental professional? Or is it something you can remedy on your own? We'll let you know the possible causes and give you some advice to get your gums back to a condition you can feel great about.

What's The Most Common Cause For Bleeding Gums When Flossing?

The most likely cause for your bleeding gums is that bacteria has built up around your gumline and turned into plaque (a soft, sticky, colorless film), resulting in gingivitis.

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease. The word "disease" sounds scary, but according to findings published in the Journal of Dental Research, nearly half of adults over 30 in the US (47.1 percent to be exact) have some form of gum disease. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take gingivitis seriously, though. Left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis. This more severe form of gum disease can cause your teeth to loosen or even fall out.

But don't worry, gum disease can be reversed, and we'll tell you how.

Learn more about gingivitis.

What Are Other Reasons Gums Bleed When Flossing?

Gingivitis may be the most common cause of bleeding gums, but it's not the only cause. Some other reasons to consider include:

  • If you just started flossing
    This should clear up in about a week, and if it persists, you may have gingivitis.
  • The use of blood-thinning medications
    If you're taking blood-thinning medications, this could also cause bleeding in your gums. Speak with your medical professional to determine if this is the case and see if any changes are recommended.
  • Taking new medications
    If your bleeding gums start around the same time you begin taking a new medication, then you may want to talk to your physician to determine if the medication may be the cause.
  • Pregnancy
    If you're pregnant, hormonal changes may be increasing your sensitivity to plaque, and you may have pregnancy gingivitis. Practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dental professional regularly while pregnant can help prevent pregnancy gingivitis.

What Should You Do When Your Gums Bleed?

The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dental professional if your gums bleed regularly or if it concerns you. If your dental professional diagnoses you with gum disease early, a professional cleaning and proper oral hygiene can reverse its effects. If you have gum disease that advances to a more severe state, your dental professional may recommend scaling and root planing.

Learn more about scaling and root planing.

In most cases, the best way to prevent bleeding gums is to practice good oral hygiene. Be sure to brush at least twice a day, don't forget to brush your tongue, and keep flossing or using an interdental brush or oral irrigator to clean between your teeth. Consider using other helpful products like an antimicrobial mouthrinse and tongue scrapers. And be sure to see your dental professional for regular appointments whether your gums are bleeding or not. Together, you and your dental professional will be able to discuss the best options for your individual needs, and you'll be able to feel great about a future of oral health that makes you smile.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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