Is it normal to bleed when I floss?
Did you know: One of the most frequent excuses patients use for not flossing their teeth is bleeding gums?
Patients sometimes assume by avoiding areas that are bleeding, then they are allowing their gums to heal. However, bleeding gums is one of the first early warning signs that something more sinister, like gingivitis or periodontitis, has taken residence in the patient’s mouth.
Catching gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis in their early stages is imperative for good oral health; patients that ignore the warning signs until large-scale discomfort and damage has taken place often risk expensive procedures and losing teeth.
For many patients starting on better oral hygiene and introducing a flossing regime, some slight bleeding may be experienced for the first few days while you get used to the practice. The main reasons for this is that lots of patients overestimate the amount of pressure they need to place on the floss, and may accidentally cut or rough-up their gum-line. If you’re new to flossing: be gentle, aim to work the floss in the direction away from your gum-line, and focus on scraping the sides of the teeth with a smooth ‘rocking’ motion.
Another reason is that gums that are already inflamed will tend to bleed more easily than healthy gums, when irritated mechanically by flossing or brushing. Avoiding cleaning bleeding areas only worsens the state of your gums.
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However, if flossing is already part of your daily practice and you see droplets of blood, it might be a good idea to visit your dentist and have a closer look at what might be causing the bleeding.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, especially along the gum margin where teeth and gums meet. Often caused by a bacterial infection, when left unchecked gingivitis can develop into the more serious periodontitis disease that causes gums to recede, teeth to separate, and bone around the teeth to break down – resulting in the loss of teeth.
Where does it come from?
Every time you eat, you are introducing energy sources to allow bacteria to form plaque on the teeth. If food debris and plaque are not cleaned away, plaque can travel down into the spaces between the gum and tooth enamel to attack tissue.
When plaque hardens into tartar (calculus), patients are rarely able to remove the damaging bacteria without expert dental intervention.
What are the signs?
Healthy gums are meant to be pink, firm, of normal size and not bubbling between teeth, and most importantly they shouldn’t bleed.
Gingivitis symptoms include redness, gum swelling and bleeding – especially during brushing and flossing.
Periodontitis is characterised by bleeding, swelling, receding gums, bad breath and loose teeth.
Patients with braces may be more susceptible to gum disease, so if you or your loved one has braces or dental plates, be sure to take extra care.
How do I prevent this?
The good news is that gingivitis and periodontitis disease can be prevented with just good oral hygiene. This means brushing, flossing and rinsing every day, twice a day, and having regular six-monthly check-ups at your dentist.
What do I do if I think I have gingivitis or periodontitis?
Early intervention from your dental specialist is recommended to ensure the long-term health of your teeth and gums. Not only will your dentist be able to help treat your symptoms and prevent further damage, they may be able to intervene in other areas before they become issues.
If you have any questions about gum health or would like to know more about improving you or your family’s daily oral hygiene, why not call us at our Parramatta Dental Avenue dental clinic on 02 8004 0055.