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Bleeding Gums When Brushing and Flossing: Is It Normal?

If you got up from the computer right now and went over to the sink to wash your hands, would you expect them to bleed as  you wash them?

Your Hands Don't Bleed When You Wash ThemIf your hands did start bleeding all over while you were washing them, you'd probably be quite worried.  However, many people simply think it's alright to get bleeding gums while they brush and floss.

The title of this post asks the question, Is it normal to get bleeding gums when brushing and flossing? The fact of the matter is that while it may be normal (as in it happens to a lot of people) to get bleeding gums, it's certainly not healthy to get bleeding gums when brushing and flossing.

Why People's Gums Bleed During Brushing and Flossing

The most common reason that people get bleeding gums when brushing and flossing is because they have plaque that has gotten down between their gums and their teeth that irritates their gums.

To visualize the area between the gums and teeth where this plaque accumulates, read about The Anatomy of a Tooth.  To find out more about what plaque is, read What Every Human Needs to Know About Plaque.

As the bacteria start accumulating between your teeth and your gums, it irritates the gums and causes the gums to become red and inflamed to try to fight off the bacteria.

The textbook Carranza's Clinical Periodontology states that "The presence of plaque for only two days can initiate gingival bleeding." That means that if you neglect brushing or flossing for just two days, it could cause your gums to start bleeding when you begin brushing and flossing.

It is important to note that there are some other reasons that you can get bleeding gums, such as brushing too hard, taking certain medications, or certain systemic conditions.  I'll talk about those in a future post.  For this article, I am focusing on plaque accumulation, since it is the main reason that patients get bleeding gums.

Bleeding Gums Treatment: How to Make Your Gums Stop Bleeding

The only way to get your gums to return to health is to remove the source of the irritation, which is the plaque.  You can do this by brushing and flossing.

Unfortunately, many people stop brushing or flossing when they notice that their gums are bleeding because they assume that they are hurting their gums.  While brushing and flossing too rigorously can hurt your gums, chances are that there is bacteria down between your gums and your teeth that needs to be removed.  Not flossing because your gums bleed will only make the problem worse and could lead you down the path to periodontal disease.

Once you start improving your oral hygiene, your gums should stop bleeding.  The textbook Carranza's Clinical Periodontology also says, "It may take seven days or more after continued plaque control and treatment to eliminate gingival bleeding."  That means that your gums should return to health after about a week or so of practicing a good brushing and flossing routine.

If your gums constantly bleed when you brush and floss and it doesn't go away after a week or so of good oral hygiene, it could be a sign of something more serious and you should ask your doctor or dentist about it.

Conclusion

It is not healthy to have bleeding gums when brushing and flossing.  By brushing and flossing, you can remove the plaque that accumulates between your gums and your teeth, and cause your gums to return to their healthy, pink, non-bleeding state.  It's a good idea to consult your dentist/dental hygienist to see if you are in need of a deeper gum cleaning (scaling and root planing) to help remove the plaque that has accumulated underneath your gum-line.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about bleeding gums?  I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below and I'll do my best to answer any questions that you may have.  Thanks for reading!


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2 Comments |  Leave A Comment

  1. I've always wondered why my gums sometimes bleed when I floss. I used to not be very consistent with flossing, so that's when they would bleed more. I remember even being at the dentist & the cloth they tied around my neck would have blood on it. It was great reading this article and seeing the reason why that happens. It will help me to keep flossing daily, as I have been! This Mom’s Guide has helped me with tips on how to care for my kids teeth & make brushing their teeth a fun experience for them.

  2. hi, I just would like to ask if the nerves of theeth on the bottom are reconneted with the nerves on top? I ve been to dentist today and he found out that in my bottom tooth in root canal is piece of broken dental instrument which has been causing me pain but at the same time I have a pain in the excatly same tooth on the top , so I would like to know if its got something to do with it? as he said i ve got nothgin there after he done xrays nd that the pain could be related to the bottom tooth or because i got too large filling?

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About Me

Tom, Creator of Oral AnswersHi, I'm Tom. I recently graduated from dental school and am now a dentist in Bridgewater, Virginia. I started this blog to help people take better care of their teeth. You can learn more about me or ask me a question.

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