The gums or gingivae, a part of the soft tissue lining the mouth, are connective tissue covered with mucous membrane that surrounds teeth and provides a seal around them. Healthy gums play an important role in protecting teeth and deep tissues. However, the accumulation of bacterial plaque between teeth can cause gum inflammation, making them weak and prone to bleeding. If you notice bleeding from gum after flossing and brushing, in most cases, it is not a matter of concern as gums heal naturally in just a few days. However, if bleeding continues and the situation worsens, you should consult your dentist as gum bleeding during flossing could be a sign of other underlying conditions. Stopping flossing isn’t a solution, as it will make your gums weaker. You should keep your oral space clean and consult your dentist as ignoring it for long could lead to gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth decay.
What Causes Gum Bleeding?
When you start flossing between teeth to remove deposits, which normal brushing couldn’t remove, your gum could start bleeding. It is not a matter of big concern if the bleeding stops quickly. However, if the condition persists for long you should consult your doctor as bleeding could be due to several other factors. Besides, aggressive brushing and wrong flossing technique, the cause of gums bleeding could be:
Gingivitis: Plaque build-up along the gum line could lead to a condition called gingivitis. The bacterial outgrowth weakens the gum tissue, thus flossing could cause bleeding. Antibacterial mouthwash could help you control harmful bacteria outgrowth in oral space.
Periodontitis: Gingivitis, if left untreated for long, could lead to periodontal disease. Tissues surrounding teeth and bone supporting teeth get damaged. In the long run, gums start pulling away from the root. So, if you notice excessive bleeding from the gum after brushing and flossing, it could be an indication of the onset of periodontal disease.
Diabetes: Type-1 or type-2 diabetes weakens your immune system, thus making your oral space including gums vulnerable to bacterial infections. Since healing takes longer, any injury, whether caused by flossing or brushing, will lead to regular bleeding from gums.
Leukemia: The platelet count decreases significantly in leukemia patients, affecting the blood’s potential to clot quickly. So, if you are experiencing abnormal gum bleeding and it takes longer to heal, then you should consult your dentist at the earliest for a detailed diagnosis.
Thrombocytopenia: Patients suffering from thrombocytopenia experience excessive bleeding in different body parts, including gums, due to a very low platelet count in the blood. If flossing triggers excessive bleeding, you should get in touch with an oral care specialist for a thorough checkup.
Hemophilia: Abnormality related to blood clotting could be due to a genetic disorder called hemophilia. The person with this condition experiences abnormally high bleeding as blood fails to clot. So, if you have hemophilia, you should be cautious during the flossing procedure.
Vitamin C & K Deficiency: Less the optimum consumption of foods containing Vitamin C could affect your capacity to heal quickly. Deficiency of Vitamin C could lead to scurvy, resulting in regular bleeding from gums. Similarly, a shortage of Vitamin K affects the clotting property of the blood. It could also be one of the several reasons responsible for excessive bleeding during flossing exercise.
How to Prevent Gum Bleeding During Flossing?
The effectiveness of treatment and preventive measures depends on identifying the cause of bleeding gums. If your gum is healthy, your gum bleeding caused by flossing will stop naturally. However, if gum bleeding is due to some other underlying conditions, you might need a detailed diagnosis to know about the possible cause of bleeding gums. Here are some tips to prevent and treat gums to stop bleeding during flossing or brushing:
Oral Hygiene: Plaque buildup and resulting bacterial infection are some of the major causes of bleeding gums. You can prevent gum bleeding by following standard oral care practices, like brushing twice and flossing once, albeit not aggressively. Oral care becomes more important if you are pregnant as hormonal changes can trigger gum infection and bleeding.
Rinsing: Studies suggest that rinsing mouth with diluted hydrogen peroxide solution after brushing and flossing helps in reducing gingivitis and gums bleeding. However, be careful about concentration and don’t swallow the solution.
Quit Smoking: Smoking is dangerous for your body, especially oral space. It is considered one of the major causes of gum diseases, including gums bleeding. It weakens the immune system, triggers plaque formation, so quitting smoking will help you control gum bleeding.
Manage Stress: Some studies link periodontal disease with high emotional stress. People with high stress levels show relatively low immune systems, making them more vulnerable to gum disease and resulting in gum bleeding. High stress makes one a little careless about oral hygiene, so if you are under stress then try to keep oral space clean to prevent gum disease.
Increase Vitamin C Intake: Vitamin C makes your immune system stronger, so if your gum bleeds you should increase Vitamin C intake. Keep Vitamin C intake in the range of 65 to 90 mg per day to avoid side effects, and the best to rely on Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits and vegetables.
Boost Vitamin K Intake: Vitamin K is necessary for proper clotting of blood. So, you can stop easy gum bleeding by increasing Vitamin K intake in the range of 90 to 120 mg per day. Eating spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, and kale could help you get Vitamin K from natural sources.
Cold Compress: If gum bleeds due to injury, a cold compress could help in easing swelling and restrict blood circulation in the affected area. Applying the ice pack for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off to your gum lines several times a day will be of great help in healing.
Cut Carbs Intake: Foods rich in carbohydrate triggers bacterial growth, thus making your oral space prone to infections. If your gum bleeds after flossing, cutting carbohydrate-rich and sugary foods could
Drink Green Tea: Natural antioxidants found in green tea are known for lowering inflammatory response to bacteria. Drinking 2-3 cups of green tea could help in reversing periodontal disease and stop gum bleeding.
Salt Water Rinse: Bacteria thrives in the sugary oral space, so rinsing the mouth 2-3 times a day with lukewarm salt water could be of great help in controlling bacteria. Saltwater changes the pH of oral space temporarily, thus bacteria growth stops. Rinsing your mouth with saltwater solution will keep your gums healthy.
How Often Should You Floss Your Teeth?
Brushing is necessary but you can’t remove food particles stuck between teeth with a brush. Flossing will help you clean all possible debris. If you have started flossing recently, your gums might get injured and start to bleed. Flossing keeps your oral space bacteria-free clean, but how often should one floss? Frankly, it depends on your dental structure as crooked, misaligned, or gapped teeth might need more frequent flossing. However, flossing at least once a day, before brushing after dinner is enough to keep the oral area debris free. If your gums bleed, dentists recommend flossing after each meal until your gum tissue becomes more resilient.
What is the Proper Teeth Flossing Technique?
Flossing helps in removing food particles, but you should be very careful in flossing as the improper technique could injure soft gum tissue and lead to gum bleeding. Break off about 45 cm of floss and hold the floss tightly between thumbs and forefinger, leaving no loose end.
- Push the floss gently between your teeth using a “rocking” motion and reach the base of the triangle between each tooth.
- Once the floss reaches the gumline, make a C-shape curve against a tooth without cutting your gum.
- Move the floss back and forth gently and scrape the side of the tooth.
- Repeat the process on the other side of the gap and don’t forget the back of the last tooth.
- Be careful about the force you apply as excessive force could damage your gums or floss might break.
Should I Stop Flossing, if Gum Bleeds?
Seeing blood in the mouth when flossing could trigger panic, and it is perfectly natural to be concerned. Gums heal naturally without any medication, but people stop flossing, fearing it will damage gum further. Dentists recommend otherwise, as bleeding could be due to gingivitis or periodontitis caused by plaque and tartar deposit. You should continue flossing even if it bleeds as gum tissue heals naturally and become resilient to flossing. Leaving food deposits between teeth will make your gums and teeth weak and prone to several oral diseases. However, if gum bleeding persists then you should book an appointment with your dentist as gum bleeding could be due to other underlying conditions needing different treatment.
Your smile is precious, and you will definitely not want your admirer to make a mockery of food deposits between your teeth. Flossing at least once a day could help you keep teeth clean and oral disease away. However, if your gum bleeds when flossing, you should wait for a few days and try some home remedies to control gum inflammation. If gum bleeding continues, you should get in touch with your dentist as it could be an indication of other underlying conditions.
- Akram, Ruksana, and Mian Azizullah Khan (1904-1908). “Prevalence of bleeding gums.”
- Home, N. I. D. C. R., et al(1993). “Periodontal disease.”
- Seymour, R. A(2009). “Is gum disease killing your patient?.”
- Coventry, John, et al(2000). “Periodontal disease.”