Why do my gums bleed when I floss? Reasons and solutions explained!

“Why do my gums bleed when I floss?” That sounds scary, doesn’t it? Bleeding is never a good sign especially if it is your gums. There are various reasons that cause gums to bleed. Some are more serious than others, but there is no need to be alarmed yet. We are going to discuss all things gum health-related. There are a few reasons and causes of bleeding gums. At first, it might not be a serious issue, however, it is in your favor to pay attention and take care of it as soon as possible because this is a sign from your body.

Do your gums hurt and bleed? This is a sign from your body

If you have said yes to this question, it is best to stick around. You might find the answer to your problem in this article.

It is true! When your gums hurt and bleed it is a sign from your body. We have mentioned before that one of the means of communication for our body is through our gums. So, you might be wondering “why do my gums hurt and bleed when I floss”. What are they trying to tell us when they hurt and bleed? Well, there could be a multitude of reasons. It could be anything from vitamin deficiency to periodontal disease. But let’s not jump to any conclusions just yet. We will go through each cause possible with details to help you figure out the problem, and if necessary go to your dentist as quickly as possible.

What are the reasons why my gums bleed when I floss?

As we said there are a few reasons that contribute to your gums bleeding when you floss. Now to answer your question “Why do my gums bleed when I floss?” let’s go through them and clear them up for you.

Main reasonExplanation
Lack of a flossing routineGums not used to regular flossing
Wrong flossing techniqueBeing too harsh and rough with the gums when flossing
Vitamin deficiencyNot having enough vitamin C or K in the body
Periodontal diseaseGum infection that inflames the gums and makes them bleed
MedicationUsually a side effect of medications that directly affect your blood’s ability to clot

1) Not being used to flossing

The first reason could be that your gums are not used to the action of flossing. If you are not an avid flosser and do not follow a proper flossing routine your gums could hurt. You know it is like working out. Your muscles will hurt a lot when you have just started working out. After a while, when they adjust to your exercise routine, your muscles will hurt less. The same can go for your gums. Your gums just need to adjust to daily flossing. When your gums become healthier and stronger, there is less chance for them to hurt and bleed.

2) Improper flossing technique

Well, speaking of newcomers to the flossing game, you might not be one of them. You might be thinking that “I have been flossing for a while so why do my gums still hurt and bleed sometimes?”. It could be because of the way you floss. Proper flossing is a technique that takes time to master. Proper flossing does not mean being rough on your teeth and gums when you do it. You can ask your dentist or dental hygienist to teach you the proper way to floss to avoid hurting yourself.

3) Pick the right one

Pick! Get it? Actually, dentists do not usually recommend using a toothpick. That should be your last resort. Having bleeding gums can sometimes come down to your gear. Surely you have seen many different kinds of dental floss and we agree it can be confusing. Thread floss, floss picks, dental tape, and even interdental brushes are all good options but which one to pick? Depending on your teeth and gums situation there are several factors that can help with choosing the best-suited floss for you. Factors such as:

  • Distance between the teeth (tight or wide)
  • Your gum tissue condition (healthy, sensitive, or diseased with a sign of gingivitis)
  • Having braces, retainers, or bridges
  • Your age
  • Whether you have mobility issues
  • Having dental crowns or implants

So for a better understanding of your teeth, and to find a suitable floss for you talk with an experienced dentist and ask for recommendations.

4) Toothbrush and brushing your teeth

Oral health routine doesn’t only include flossing. Before flossing, your teeth brushing is the first and most important part of oral and dental health. Using a firm brush with hard bristles can harm your gums and make them bleed. Even if you are using a soft toothbrush, you can cause gum bleeding if you are brushing your teeth too much or too harshly. Brushing your teeth harder doesn’t result in cleaner teeth.

5) Medication

Some medications could affect the integrity of your gum tissue making it more sensitive to bleeding when you floss. Medications that could be the culprit to your bleeding gums are:

  • Blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin, and heparin are most commonly prescribed as preventative methods for blood clots and heart attacks. Since they thin the blood and increase the blood flow, it would be easier for your gums to bleed when flossing.
  • Antidepressants and anxiety medications, in some cases, can cause dry mouth and can lead to bleeding gums when flossing. This is because the mucus in our mouth would be pretty much non-existent and the skin inside our mouth is easier to break and bleed.
  • Immunosuppressions can cause secondary anemia and one of its symptoms is bleeding gums when flossing.
  • Blood pressure medications have a direct effect on your blood flow and can make gums more susceptible to bleeding.

Remember these are just some examples, and there is a chance that they might cause your gums to bleed when flossing. If you are taking any of these medications better keep a look out for your gums. If you come across any bleeding gums during the time you are taking any of these medications, talk with your doctor. They can help you with alternative medications, or refer you to a dentist that could help you with the situation. Please do not stop taking any of your medications without a consultation.

So far, these are all external reasons that could cause you to ask why my gums bleed when I floss. What if it is coming from the inside? What are those internal reasons?

6) Vitamin deficiency

Not having enough vitamins in your body can show up in your gums as they would be swollen and might even bleed especially when flossing. Vitamin C is usually the main star of the show being “my gums bleed when I floss”. Lack of vitamin K can play a part as well. This can be due to poor nutrition and not following a healthy diet. In severe cases, vitamin C deficiency can lead to a disease called scurvy. Scurvy can be a scary disease if not treated, and it might even cause tooth loss.

7) Periodontal disease

Having any form of gum disease could be why your gums bleed when you floss. Whether it is simple gum inflammation or advanced stages of gum disease, such as gingivitis. You can go to a dentist to help with your gum treatment, but in more serious cases, it might be best to get help from experts in gum disease also called periodontists.

8) Pregnancy Gingivitis

Like pregnancy wasn’t hard enough and now on top of it, there is gingivitis. This is due to hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy. Gum inflammation during pregnancy can make it easier for plaque buildup and bacterial infection to lead to bleeding gums. That is why oral hygiene routines during pregnancy are necessary. Your dentist or dental hygienist would recommend professional teeth cleanings as a preventative method to help with your gums.

What should I do if my gums bleed when I floss?

We know our blood should be in our blood vessels and any kind of bleeding looks scary. Your gums bleeding could look like you are a vampire, but believe us when we tell you your teeth wouldn’t look that cool if you have untreated gum disease. So, let’s talk about the things you can and should do if your gums bleed when you floss.

A good oral hygiene routine

The most important and helpful thing you can do to help your gums and oral hygiene, in general, is to have and follow a good oral health routine.

Brushing twice a day with a suitable toothbrush while using fluoride toothpaste should be the baseline. Next comes flossing properly and effectively to clean all the spaces between your teeth. Using mouthwash, salt water rinse, or hydrogen peroxide rinse can help with those bacteria that will turn into tartar buildup, and cause gum irritation. So, include that little extra time in your nightly routine to see the improvements in your dental health.

A healthy diet

What we put into our body affects it 100%. So try to have less sugary and proceeded food to avoid creating an acidic environment for the bacteria to thrive in. Eating more vegetables, especially green and leafy ones like spinach, kale, and celery accompanied by crunchy fruit, such as apples will help your oral health for the better. All these will increase your vitamin C and K intake and the crunch will help with the removal of plaque from the teeth. Both of those vitamins will help with blood clotting and result in less bleeding. It’s also possible to improve your general dental health by eating foods that remineralize teeth

No smoking

Yes, smoking can undo all those good things that you are doing for your oral health. Smoking makes it harder for the body, and in this case your gums to heal themselves by weakening your immune system. If you need help to quit talk with your physician.

How to stop bleeding gums at home

So far, we have realized what the causes of gums bleeding when we floss is. This brings us to how to stop my gum from bleeding. We are going to give you some useful tips and home remedies to help you maintain your oral health and take care of your gums.

  • Salt water rinse: Salt has antibacterial properties that can prevent infections from developing in your mouth. Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle it two to three times a day for a few minutes.
  • Quitting smoking: We already know smoking is harmful to the body but how does it affect our oral health? Smoking suppresses our immune system and helps bacterial growth. This could lead to gum inflammation and bleeding. So quitting could help your gums to be healthier.
  • Crunchy fruit and vegetables: Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and celery not only helps to remove plaque buildup from the teeth but also increases vitamin intake. Two birds with one stone!
  • Oil pulling: An ancient practice that has dental professionals divided about whether it is helpful or not due to lack of evidence. For this method, people use an edible oil such as coconut or sesame and swish it in their mouth for a few minutes. It is said the oil would keep the bacteria at bay and help with healing the gum tissue. Talk with your dentist before trying this method.
  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse: Same as the saltwater rinse, it takes care of harmful bacteria and keeps your gums nice and tidy. Add a capful to a glass of water and swish it around your mouth for a few minutes. Do not overdo this application because it can harm your teeth.
  • Cold compress: Using a cold compress will help with gum inflammation and slow down the bleeding.

These are all recommendations and should never be replaced as a way to avoid going for your dental checkups. Using these home remedies with a good practice of regular flossing and brushing will guarantee a healthy mouth for the time to come.

When to see the dentist

All of the home remedies and the things we have mentioned in this article will take time to show their results. So keep up with them and do not be discouraged because these are not quick fixes. As for your gums bleeding, if your gums continue bleeding after 7 to 10 days make an appointment and go see your dentist as quickly as possible. 

Takeaway

If you have ever asked the question “Why do my gums bleed when I floss?”, it might be a good idea to pay more attention to your health and more specifically your oral health. Bleeding gums are never normal. But not every little bleeding in your gums requires medical attention. So follow your healthy diet and maintain a good oral hygiene routine to make sure your gums stay healthy.

Bleeding gums could be a symptom of gum disease or a side-effect of medication so never ignore it or take it lightly.

If there is excessive bleeding in your gums go see a dentist as quickly as you can.

We at Dentfix do our best to provide you with the most up-to-date information. Do not hesitate to contact us so we can help you with your free consultation.

Resources:

-Newbrun E. Indices to measure gingival bleeding. J Periodontol. 1996 Jun;67(6):555-61. doi: 10.1902/jop.1996.67.6.555. PMID: 8794964. Link

-Berchier CE, Slot DE, Haps S, Van der Weijden GA. The efficacy of dental floss in addition to a toothbrush on plaque and parameters of gingival inflammation: a systematic review. Int J Dent Hyg. 2008 Nov;6(4):265-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5037.2008.00336.x. PMID: 19138178. Link

× How can I help you?