My gums bleed when I floss, what could be causing it?

Many people believe that it is normal for their gums to bleed when they brush or floss their teeth. After all, dental floss can catch on the gums or catch on food particles that are underneath the gums. Brushing can be rough on the gums as well, particularly if you’re using improper brushing technique. It is important to note, however, that bleeding gums are never normal. If your gums bleed this usually indicates a more serious underlying dental problem.

In most cases, when gums bleed while flossing it is an indicator of gum disease or gingivitis. In gingivitis, the gum tissue becomes inflamed when plaque builds up on the teeth and under the gum. Symptoms include gums that have become red and swollen in addition to bleeding while brushing and flossing. In gum disease, gingivitis has progressed to the point that infection has formed under the gums. Symptoms of this include gums that are swollen, red, and receding. You may also have pain while you chew as well as severe bleeding during brushing.

How can I prevent my teeth from bleeding while I floss?

First, ensure that you are using proper technique when flossing. Use and up-and-down between your teeth gently. Then, curve the floss around the base of your teeth gently, going beneath the gum line. Do not force or snap the floss because this can bruise the gum tissue.

You should also ensure that you are maintaining a regular schedule of professional cleanings with your dentist. Getting your teeth cleaned every six months can help to prevent the return of both gingivitis and gum disease.

Are there other conditions that cause gum bleeding?

There are some instances when bleeding gums may indicate a more serious underlying medical condition. These systemic diseases can include:

  • Diabetes
  • Leukemia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Thyroiditis

You need to be aware of your medical history. If you are unsure if one of these conditions could be causing your gums to bleed and your dentist has ruled out brushing/flossing technique schedule an appointment with your general practitioner to ensure you do not have a more serious condition.