Are you seeing some minor bleeding when you floss your teeth and think it means you should stop? Don’t. A little pink in the bathroom sink when you floss or brush your teeth can be a warning sign that you have gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of gum disease.
Gingivitis is quite common, affecting nearly half of all American adults. While it usually doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort, bleeding gums is one of its symptoms. The good news is it’s completely reversible if addressed promptly with professional dental care and good at-home oral care habits.
If your gums bleed when flossing, read on to learn how to stop it.
Bleeding gums can be caused by a few conditions, but gingivitis is the most common one. It’s caused by a buildup of plaque at and underneath the gumline. Plaque is the film left behind on teeth after eating sugary and starchy foods that contain carbohydrates.
Bacteria thrive in plaque. If plaque isn’t cleaned away regularly from the gumline, it can start to irritate the gums. The result is mild bleeding and sometimes redness and puffiness.
This condition is called gingivitis, but if it’s left untreated it can eventually progress to periodontitis which is advanced gum disease. At this late stage, the gums have become infected and it can actually lead to receding gums and tooth loss as the infection destroys bone in the jaw. The bacteria in your mouth can also travel through your bloodstream to your heart and lungs.
Gum disease can be treated, but often requires oral surgery and other involved dental treatments to eradicate the bacteria and infection and preserve the teeth. And most of the time, it could have been avoided if the gingivitis was caught in time.
There are other causes of bleeding gums. It’s important to note that if you just started a flossing routine that your gums may bleed a bit for the first few days or weeks until you are keeping them clean regularly.
Certain medications can dry out the mouth or disrupt bacteria levels, leading to increased bleeding. Blood thinners can also make your gums bleed more easily.
If you’re pregnant, you’re more susceptible to developing bleeding gums and gingivitis because of your fluctuating hormones. If you have a bleeding disorder, that may be the cause.
Poorly fitting dentures can lead to bleeding gums as the prosthetics rub against and irritate them. Brushing your teeth too hard can also make gums bleed.
Visiting your dentist for an assessment is the best way to get to the bottom of your bleeding gums and learn what you can do to stop it.
The last thing you want to do if your gums show signs of bleeding when flossing is to stop using dental floss. You need to keep them clean more than ever. It may be time to make sure your flossing technique is up to speed.
Make sure to floss at least once a day, preferably at nighttime when you’re finished eating for the day. Any kind of dental floss should do the trick, but you should experiment with different widths and flavors to find one you enjoy using.
It’s recommended that you floss before brushing your teeth. That way the dislodged plaque will be swept away by your toothbrush and completely removed from your teeth.
To start, pull out a length off floss that is at least 18″ long. Wind each end firmly around your index fingers.
Then insert the floss between two teeth and make sure it makes tight contact with the side of one tooth as you scrape and clean it up and down. Be sure to slide the floss gently underneath the gumline to reach food debris and plaque in that area. Then make sure to repeat it with the side of the other tooth and its surrounding gumline.
Floss this way between all of your teeth. It’s usually easiest for most people to start in between their two front upper teeth and work their way around both sides before flossing the bottom teeth.
Don’t like flossing? You can try using handheld flossing brushes or a water power flosser that rinses away food in between your teeth. Handheld flossing brushes come in handy for cleaning in between your teeth after meals when you can’t floss and brush right away.
No matter what method you use, follow up by brushing with a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush and your favorite fluoride toothpaste.
Sometimes bacteria and plague can be hard to remove with brushing and flossing alone. In this case, you can try squishing your mouth with an anti-bacterial mouthwash that is formulated to treat gingivitis. Make sure you push the mouthwash through the spaces in between your teeth so it removes bacteria in these areas.
Taking a probiotic supplement or eating foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, may be beneficial to your gum health. Probiotics help regulate bacteria levels in the body, preventing “bad” bacteria from wreaking havoc. One study found that probiotics helped reduce a strain of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.
The best way to prevent or stop bleeding in the gums is to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups. Professional cleanings remove tartar and plaque from your teeth and gumline, and your hygienist and dentist can detect problem areas before they become more serious. They can also determine if you’re doing a good job with your flossing and oral care routine in general.
If your gums bleed when flossing, visit us at Agoura Hills Dental Designs. We can treat gingivitis and periodontal disease as well as many other dental conditions in a friendly, relaxed, caring environment.
Request an appointment with us. We look forward to helping you achieve a healthy, bright smile.