Gums bleeding while flossing is a frequently recorded complaint at every dental office. Many patients are turned off from flossing as it becomes painful, messy and inconvenient. However, it is important to understand that your gums are probably bleeding because you need to floss more often.
Plaque accumulates in the spaces between teeth because toothbrushes do a poor job of reaching these areas. As plaque settles at/below the gum line, the tissues there become inflamed, thin and ulcerated. As you floss, you are both eliminating the plaque and bacteria from these areas and temporarily aggravating the gum tissue (hence the bleeding). Over time, the absence of buildup will allow the gums to heal and rethicken, stopping the bleeding.
A knee-jerk response to bleeding on flossing is to floss less often or less vigorously. While you may be physically cutting the gums with floss, a proper technique will avoid this. Make sure you thread the floss in between the teeth and move it up the side of each tooth at each contact. Try to "cup" the floss around the teeth and allow it to go slightly below the gum line. This will maximize effectiveness and minimize gingival inflammation. If you would like to know more about flossing, oral hygiene or dental cleanings, please contact our office!