My Gums Bleed When I Floss. Should I Be Worried?

When it comes to oral health, most people focus on preventing cavities. That’s certainly important, but it’s just as important to keep your gums healthy. Without healthy gums, your teeth can suffer, and research shows your overall health can suffer, too.

Bleeding gums are common — and they need some professional attention to figure out why they’re bleeding and to prevent bleeding in the future. At Zhao Dental, our dentists, Dr. Shirley Zhao and Dr. Mark Armstrong, help patients in Pleasanton and Tracy, California, get the preventive care they need, so they can keep brushing, flossing, and enjoy better health, too. 

Here’s what to do if flossing is causing your gums to bleed.

The importance of gum health

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of bleeding gums, give yourself an “A” for flossing in the first place. Even though daily flossing is one of the best things you can do to maintain good oral health, data from a survey of adults age 30+ showed that only about a third flossed daily, and another one-third never flossed. So good for you for taking thisimportant step toward better oral health!

If your gums are bleeding when you floss though, you have good reason to be concerned, because bleeding gums are a common symptom of gum disease — especially gum disease in its earliest stages, a condition called gingivitis. 

With gingivitis, plaque and tartar deposits (along with the bacteria they contain) make your gums irritated and inflamed. Even though your gums might not hurt at this stage, bleeding is an indication that they’re being affected and that gum disease is developing. 

It’s really important to catch gum disease early, because without treatment, it can lead to infection and tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. The good news: Gingivitis can be treated — and even reversed. 

Treating gingivitis

Home care — regular brushing and flossing — plays a really important role in removing sticky plaque from your teeth, especially between teeth and at the gum line. Using the right technique is also important. At your next office visit, we can show you how to angle your toothbrush so it cleans better and how to use floss to keep plaque at bay without irritating your gums.

Regular cleanings are also critical for stopping gingivitis in its tracks. During your cleaning, our team uses special methods to remove plaque and hard tartar deposits from your teeth and even just below your gum line. If your gum disease is more severe, we may suggest a deeper cleaning to get rid of tartar farther down the tooth and near the roots.

Other causes of bleeding gums

Even though gum disease is a very common cause of bleeding gums, it’s not the only cause. 

Other possible reasons gums can bleed include:

No matter what’s causing your bleeding, one thing’s for sure: Gums aren’t supposed to bleed. If they are bleeding, it’s a good idea to book an appointment so we can figure out why.

Don’t ignore your bleeding gums

Flossing is an important part of oral health care, and it’s essential for preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar as well as gum disease. If your gums are bleeding, that doesn’t mean you should give up flossing. 

Instead, call the office or book an appointment online so we can find a solution. As part of your preventive care routine, regular office visits can reduce your risk of bleeding gums, prevent gum disease, and help you enjoy a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

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