Do Your Gums Bleed When Flossing?

Young girl brushing her teeth with her parents

If your gums bleed when flossing, you probably need to change your dental care routine slightly. Although this doesn't mean your mouth is necessarily unclean, it can mean you need to floss more regularly. 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. While it may feel counter-intuitive, you should continue to floss daily.

Causes of Bleeding Gums

Several factors can cause gums to bleed, including plaque build-up along the gumline and between the teeth, and plaque forming on top of calculus (tartar), thus contributing to gum problems. Vitamin deficiencies can also contribute to bleeding gums. Plaque is a layer of sticky germs that constantly forms on the 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 visiting a dentist or dental hygienist to scale the teeth. As such, your first line of defence against bleeding gums should always be to visit your dentist, who can alert you if your bleeding gums are symptomatic of an underlying condition.

Other Ways To Avoid Bleeding Gums

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

Always consult your dentist if you have bleeding gums. Furthermore, you should take care to eat a balanced diet: this will help develop and maintain strong, cavity-resistant teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. If you're unsure how to brush your teeth correctly, ask your dental hygienist for some tips; if you smoke, consider options to help you quit. According to the South African Dental Association, using tobacco increases your risk of developing periodontal disease.


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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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 50 cm 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 germs.

Don’t brush off your oral health

Brushing and flossing are the keys to a healthy smile. Check out of products to find what’s right for you.