You might think it’s perfectly normal that your gums bleed when flossing, and in many cases, you’d be right. But bleeding gums are also often an indication of issues with oral health or hygiene. That doesn’t necessarily mean your mouth is unclean, but it can mean that you need to change up your routine in some way.
You need to pay a visit to your dentist as well, because bleeding gums are one of the most common symptoms of a more serious oral health issue called gingivitis.
What is gingivitis?
A mild form of gum disease, gingivitis basically means your gums have become inflamed or infected. This can happen for a lot of reasons, but the primary reasons are usually related to insufficient oral hygiene or other lifestyle choices, like an unhealthy diet or use of tobacco products.
Gingivitis often forms when plaque (a sticky substance made when bacteria interact with sugars and starches left on your teeth) turns into tartar (plaque that stays on your teeth too long and hardens). This can happen within 48 hours if you do not adequately brush away the plaque. And if it has already hardened into tartar, your dentist will need to remove it.
What does gingivitis do?
When your teeth are covered in hard, sticky tartar, it can irritate the part of your gums along the base of your teeth, causing inflammation. In time, this inflammation causes your gums to become swollen and sensitive—and they can become infected by the bacteria that lives in the tartar. That’s how gingivitis forms.
Other symptoms of gingivitis include tender, sore, or reddened gums, pus between the gums and teeth, bad breath, loose or shifting teeth, receding gums, and sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages. You may also notice that your gums bleed when flossing.
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What are the risks of gingivitis?
While gingivitis is a common and relatively mild form of gum disease, it’s extremely important to take it seriously and treat it properly with the help of your dentist. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to much more severe forms of gum disease. The infection can even spread to the underlying tissue and bone beneath your gums, causing tooth loss.
What should I do next?
- Schedule an appointment with your local dentist so they can check out the problem and tell you the best course of action.
- Start practicing great oral hygiene, ASAP! Good health habits, such as brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily, and eating a balanced diet without too many sugary or starchy foods can help prevent and reverse gingivitis.
- If you use any tobacco products, the best thing you can possibly do for your oral health is to begin quitting. Tobacco products don’t just cause gingivitis, but they can lead to far more serious health issues.
You should also try being far more gentle when you brush and floss. Sensitive gums—whether related to gingivitis or not—can easily start bleeding if you treat them too roughly. Try investing in a brush with softer bristles, and brush using slow, gentle, circular motions. If your gums bleed when flossing, make sure you’re not pulling the floss too hard. Use slow, small movements to make sure you don’t accidentally hurt sensitive gums.
If your gums are in need of it, you may require more extensive treatment recommended by your dentist. Dr. Mullins at My Family Dentistry is licensed to practice Laser Periodontal Therapy™, a minimally-invasive method of treating gum disease. LPT is the only laser-assisted procedure certified by the FDA for treatment of periodontitis. This means that we can successfully treat you for gum disease without scalpels or sutures.
Contact us today to schedule your next appointment where you can learn more about how we treat gum disease and help to give you a healthier, happier mouth.