Why do my gums bleed when I floss?

This is something many people encounter the night before their dental appointment when they haven’t been using floss very regularly.  It happens because the gums have become inflamed (gingivitis) in some areas and as a result are more delicate and easily irritated.  The inflammation is due to accumulations of plaque and bacteria (especially certain strains of staph and strep).  The toxins that this bacteria produces will establish themselves in colonies especially in harder to clean areas between teeth and below the gums.  This early form of periodontal or gum disease is reversible as long as the bacteria causing the irritation is removed and kept away.  Unfortunately bleeding gums can sometimes discourage people from flossing thinking they are causing damage. Quite the opposite is true however.  Bleeding gums means they are not clean enough.  If the irritants are reduced and removed with proper home care in conjunction with regular hygiene visits, the bleeding will stop.  Healthy gums won’t bleed with regular flossing.  However, if gingivitis is allowed to progress, periodontitis (gum disease) will develop which is not as easily halted.

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7 responses

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