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Why Do My Teeth Bleed When I Floss? 

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One of the more tedious aspects of good oral hygiene is staying consistent with flossing. While brushing your teeth is a daily habit for many people, flossing can be easily forgotten or skipped, but it’s essential for removing the plaque and bacteria your toothbrush can’t reach. So, when you make the effort to floss, it can be alarming if you notice your gums start bleeding.

But why does this happen? And is it something to worry about?

Bleeding gums while flossing can happen, especially at first. This is because plaque buildup irritates your gums, making them more prone to bleeding when disturbed by the floss. However, this should stop after a few weeks of regular flossing as your gums improve. If the bleeding continues, it could indicate gingivitis, an early gum disease. 

Regular dental checkups and cleanings can help prevent and treat bleeding gums and are essential for maintaining good oral health. 

Why Is Flossing So Important? 

Brushing alone isn’t sufficient. The bristles of your toothbrush can’t reach between the crevices of your teeth and gums, so if you don’t floss, leftover food and plaque can be left behind, which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay (cavities), and bad breath.

In addition to preventing oral health issues, flossing can positively impact your overall health. Some studies suggest that there is a link between gum disease and other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. Keeping your gums healthy through regular flossing can reduce your risk of developing these conditions.

How to Floss Properly

Proper flossing technique is key to reaping the benefits of this simple yet effective practice. Here are some tips:

  • Start with a piece of floss about the length of your arm (~18 inches). Wrap most of it around your middle fingers, leaving a 1–2 inch section between your hands.
  • Grip the floss tautly with your thumbs and index fingers. Use a gentle sawing motion to guide the floss between your teeth.
  • Once the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape around the base of one tooth. Gently slide the floss up and down along the tooth surface, hugging the curve.
  • Repeat on the other side of the tooth. Then, move on to the next tooth, using a clean section of floss each time.
  • Remember the backs of your last molars! Floss them gently as well.

Being rough while brushing and flossing may also cause slight bleeding in the gums. It is important to be gentle when brushing and flossing to avoid causing damage to the gums. If your gums bleed excessively or are consistently sore, it is important to consult with a dentist.

I’ve Been Flossing for a While, & My Gums Are Still Bleeding

If you’ve been flossing regularly and still experience bleeding between your teeth and gums, it could be because of other issues that need medical attention. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get a thorough cleaning and address any concerns.

Other factors that can contribute to bleeding gums include:

  • Gingivitis: This common condition causes inflamed gums that become more prone to bleeding. Gingivitis is preventable with good oral hygiene, but it can lead to gum disease if left untreated.
  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormones (like progesterone and estrogen) during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause can increase blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive to brushing and flossing. Pregnancy gingivitis is a common example.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: A lack of vitamin C, essential for collagen production in the gums, can weaken them and make them bleed more easily.
A woman using a water floss as an alternative to flossing.

Alternatives to Floss

Traditional flossing can be tricky for those with dexterity issues, crowded teeth, or limited hand mobility. Receding gums can also be irritated by floss. Others might find flossing unpleasant or time-consuming. 

Fortunately, several floss alternatives are available to make flossing easier and can help you achieve the benefits of flossing. 

  • Dental floss picks: This tool holds a small piece of dental floss on one end, while the end has a plastic pick to remove buildup and plaque. 
  • Water flosser: This tool gently removes plaque and buildup using a water stream. They are great for individuals who have sensitive gums, braces, or dental implants.
  • Interdental brushes: These devices are tiny toothbrushes designed to clean between your teeth. If you have braces or larger gaps, it may be easier to use an interdental brush than traditional dental floss.

Book a Visit With Us

Some light bleeding around your gums and teeth when you first begin to floss is normal, so please don’t be discouraged. At Sundance Dental Clinic, we are thrilled that you have taken such a crucial step in your dental care!

If you continue to experience chronic bleeding while flossing, it may be time to come in for a visit. While regular brushing and flossing at home is essential for caring for your oral health, some plaque and buildup can only be removed by your dental team.Consistent dental care should include seeing your dentist for regular dental exams. Call us today to request an appointment

Written by Sundance Dental Clinic

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