If you’re reading this, we first want to congratulate you for flossing — it’s a great way to care for your teeth and gums. So, why can this preventive practice lead to bleeding gums, which seems like the opposite of what you're trying to accomplish with your conscientious dental care?
Bleeding while flossing is fairly common, and there are a couple of reasons why this occurs. Here, the team of dental experts at Willow Glen Dental Specialists explains why.
Fighting back against gum disease
One of the main reasons you floss is to ward off gum disease, which affects nearly half of adults aged 30 years and older in the United States.
Ironically, it might be this disease that’s causing the bleeding when you floss. In the earliest stages of periodontitis, your gums become inflamed and tender, a condition we call gingivitis.This inflammation causes your gums to bleed more easily.
So, if your gums are bleeding when you floss, this could be a sign that you need to continue your efforts until the inflammation and bleeding subside. Then you’ll know you’ve reversed the course of your gum disease.
Outside of gingivitis, your gums might bleed when you floss due to technique. For example, if you’re new to flossing, your gums might be more sensitive as they’re adjusting to the new step in your regimen.
Or, you might be flossing too hard. If your gums bleed every time, we suggest that you floss more gently to see if that helps. Instead of digging in with the floss, simply run it between your teeth to remove debris. When you get to your gum line, apply less pressure.
Women, hormones, and bleeding gums
If you’re a woman, your hormones may contribute to bleeding gums when you floss. Any hormonal changes that lead to more progesterone can lead to an increase in blood flow.
For example, you can experience fluctuations in your progesterone hormones when you go through puberty, with each menstrual cycle, and during pregnancy. This last event — pregnancy — causes a big influx in progesterone, which can make your gums more vulnerable to bleeding when you floss.
Less common reasons for bleeding gums
There are other reasons why gums can be more sensitive and bleed, such as a vitamin deficiency. Bleeding gums are a common sign of a vitamin C or vitamin K deficiency.
Another issue that can contribute to bleeding while flossing are certain medications, such as blood thinners.
The bottom line is that if your gums bleed from time to time when you floss, we generally find that there’s no reason for concern. If, however, your gums bleed more often than not when you floss, or the problem is getting worse, it’s time to come see us for an evaluation.
For expert periodontal care, please contact our office in San Jose, California, by calling 408-478-9081, or you can book an appointment with us online.