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Why Are My Gums Bleeding When I Floss?

Why Are My Gums Bleeding When I Floss?

You’ve been told over and over again how important flossing is to your oral health. But what do you do when it seems as though flossing is doing more harm than good? 

We don’t want you to abandon healthy habits just because your gums are bleeding.

Here, our team of expert dentists at Rifkin Dental takes a closer look at some of the most common causes of bleeding gums and what you can do about it. 

Periodontal disease

One of the most common reasons your gums bleed post-flossing is because of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease or periodontitis, refers to a serious gum infection that leads to tissue and bone damage. In most cases, periodontal disease stems from a buildup of plaque — a sticky substance composed mainly of bacteria. 

Periodontal disease progresses over a few stages. First, plaque gathers on your teeth and along your gum line. If plaque remains on your teeth long enough, it hardens into tartar. Tartar is much more harmful than plaque and can only be removed during a professional cleaning

If tartar lingers, gingivitis sets in, which is the mildest form of gum disease. Gingivitis typically causes gum irritation and inflammation. If you leave gingivitis untreated, you eventually end up developing periodontal disease and the deep pockets of bacteria and infection that come with it. 

Bleeding after flossing is just one of the earliest warning signs of periodontal disease. Others include:

Periodontal disease is a serious oral health condition, but it’s not irreversible. We can address it with a combination of treatments, including dental cleanings, scaling and root planing, oral irrigation, and oral antibiotics. In the most severe cases, we may recommend surgery or dental implants to completely eradicate the damage and save your teeth. 

You can also prevent periodontal disease by consistently brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. 

Hormonal changes

Sometimes, bleeding gums aren’t your fault at all but the result of inevitable hormonal changes. Many hormonal changes (especially those women go through during pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation) can increase blood flow and make your gums more susceptible to bleeding, even if they’re squeaky clean. 

If you’re currently experiencing a swing in your hormone levels, it’s now more important than ever to keep up with your oral hygiene routine. 

Underlying health conditions

Some people with vitamin C or vitamin K deficiencies are more likely to experience bleeding gums. That’s because vitamin C is essential to tissue growth and repair, and vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting. Without these important vitamins, your gums are vulnerable to bleeding.

In some cases, health conditions, such as diabetes, leukemia, and hemophilia, also contribute to an increased risk for bleeding gums.

You can support your gum health by eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in key vitamins and minerals. 

Flossing techniques

You might think that scrubbing and flossing vigorously is the best way to clean your teeth, but the opposite is actually true. It’s best to be gentle while flossing, working your way carefully up and down the curve of each tooth. We can walk you through specific flossing techniques so you can clean efficiently and safely.

Still have questions about why your gums are bleeding? We’d love to talk with you. Don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at either our Carmel or Yorktown Heights, New York, offices today.

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