Maybe you saw bright red blood when you flossed your teeth at home. Or maybe your dental hygienist told you that your gums were bleeding at your last dental cleaning. Either way, your gums bleed when you floss, and now you’re wondering if you’re doing something wrong.
Bleeding is usually a sign of injury. So if you notice blood when you floss, you might be tempted to stop flossing. That’s a normal reaction, but most of the time, bleeding when you floss is actually a sign that you should be flossing more.
In fact, bleeding gums is one of the most common indicators of periodontal disease, a serious oral disease that puts you at risk for tooth loss and other complications. If your gums are bleeding when you floss, now is the time to take control of your oral health care.
J. Paul Fuentes, DDS, DABP, and Andrew Peterson, DMD, MS, are expert periodontists at Arcadia Perio. We specialize in diagnosing, treating, and reversing periodontal disease to help our patients enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Bleeding gums: a sign of periodontal disease
Your gums are soft tissue that cover your jawbones and the roots of your teeth. Healthy gums gently hug your teeth to create a seal that keeps bacteria at bay. They’re naturally pink, and they don’t bleed when you brush or floss your teeth.
But if you’re like many people, you’ve noticed that sometimes your gums do bleed when you brush or floss. There are a few possible reasons for bleeding gums, but the most common is periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease includes gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis develops when bacteria from the food you eat turns into sticky plaque that builds up on your teeth.
Gingivitis is common among children and adults. If plaque isn’t regularly removed, it turns into hard tartar, and your risk of decay and periodontitis increases.
Bacteria, plaque, and tartar along your gumline irritates and inflames your gums. Your gums may lose their pink color and begin to pull away from your teeth. When you attempt to remove that buildup by brushing or flossing, your swollen, inflamed gums start to bleed.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis is the most advanced form of periodontal disease, and it can cause even more gum sensitivity, gum recession, and eventually, tooth loss.
The importance of flossing correctly
Brushing removes harmful bacteria and plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. Regular tooth brushing is one of the most important steps of your dental hygiene, but even the most advanced toothbrushes can’t reach plaque in the tight spaces between teeth or below your gumline.
That’s where flossing comes in. Floss gets between your teeth and below your gums to effectively remove plaque buildup before it hardens into tartar.
Using soft dental floss, gently slide it back and forth to get between your teeth. Then move it below your gums by pushing it against your tooth and sliding up and down. Be gentle and never snap the floss into your gums.
When you start a new flossing routine, it’s normal to experience some light bleeding. The bleeding should stop within a few minutes, and your gums should stop bleeding within a few days of regular flossing.
If you experience heavier gum bleeding or bleeding doesn’t improve after you start your new dental hygiene routine, contact our office. Sometimes, bleeding gums could mean you’re flossing incorrectly or that you have an underlying medical condition.
Are you ready to revamp your oral hygiene routine? Schedule an appointment at Arcadia Perio for tips on brushing and flossing. Call our Arcadia, California, office at 626-662-1084 or book online now.