Why Do Gums Bleed When Flossing?

Do you notice bleeding every time you floss? Are you worried about damaging your gums? Bleeding is a common experience when flossing, and in most cases, it’s temporary. This guide explains why gums bleed and how to prevent flossing discomfort in the future.

Why Your Gums May Bleed When You Floss

If you do not floss frequently, you may experience bleeding because your gums aren’t used to the activity. Floss on a daily basis and your gums will develop a tolerance for movement. Floss once a week or once a month, and your gums never have a chance to do that. Thus you may bleed every time.

If you never floss your teeth, you may bleed during your annual teeth cleaning. Once again, your gums are not used to this movement, so they may be more sensitive than normal. Your dentist or dental hygienist will likely recommend flossing more often as a way to combat sensitivity.

Note that bleeding gums may also be a sign of gum disease and gingivitis. If your gums are inflamed or starting to pull away from your teeth, there may be periodontal issues at play. Talk to your dentist about your symptoms to get a personalized diagnosis and treatment plan.

Should I Stop Flossing My Gums If I’m Bleeding?

Bleeding is usually an indication that you are not flossing enough. That may sound counterintuitive, but it has to do with how your gums react to floss in your mouth. Continue flossing on a daily basis for several days in a row, and the bleeding will soon subside. If you feel pain when you floss or the bleeding seems excessive, hold off and talk to your dentist about your options.

How to Safely Floss between Teeth

The right flossing technique makes all the difference. Here are some pro flossing tips from Clinton Dental Center:

  1. Cut about 12-18 inches of floss out of the container. You can use waxed or unwaxed floss for this.
  2. Wrap part of the floss around the middle finger of your right hand, leaving plenty of loose floss on the end. Wrap the other end of the floss around the middle finger of your left hand.
  3. Hold the floss tightly between your thumb and pointer fingers on both hands. The goal is to create a taut line that you can control with your fingers.
  4. Slide the line of floss in between two teeth. Move the line to form a C around the left tooth, and wriggle around to loosen the grime. Repeat on the other tooth.
  5. Release the end of the floss on your left hand. Pull the unattached end through the space between your teeth and your gums.
  6. Re-wrap the floss on your left middle finger, but move up slightly so the dirty floss is past your finger. Unravel some of the clean floss on your right hand to make room.
  7. Repeat these steps until you’ve flossed between all of your teeth, including behind-the-back teeth.

If you feel more comfortable with your hands switched, that’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you create a line of floss that you can maneuver around the teeth.

How often Should I Floss?

The American Dental Association recommends flossing once per day to remove plaque that toothbrush bristles cannot reach. The ADA asserts that the type of floss you use does not matter nearly as much as the technique. Follow the tips above to floss properly and thoroughly, and you can preserve your smile for years to come.