gums bleed when flossing

Flossing your teeth daily is an important component of oral health. It’s, however, fairly common for your gums to bleed when you first introduce flossing (especially string). So long as the bleeding is not extended and stops quickly, you should not be too worried.

While it might look like you are doing the opposite, you should, in fact, continue with the daily flossing. However, excessive bleeding may indicate some deeper underlying symptoms.

Causes Of Bleeding Gums

It’s common for gums to bleed when you floss and so long as it stops, you should continue with the flossing. However, there are several underlying causes for bleeding gums that you should be aware of. We’ve discussed them below.

Wrong Approach To Oral Health

Bleeding gums when you floss could be an indication that you perhaps need to change or revisit your routine in terms of personal dental care. Bleeding, however, doesn’t necessarily mean flossing is not good for you. Gums could bleed if you floss too aggressively. Remember gum tissue is very delicate and needs proper and gentle care. This is why we often recommend using a water flosser such as Waterpik, because it allows for non-intrusive teeth cleaning.

Plaque Buildup

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that forms constantly on the teeth. If you don’t attempt to get rid of it daily by brushing and flossing, plaque turns into a hard calculus layer. When you try flossing, the hard layer may cause the gums to bleed. Sometimes, you may need the dentist to do teeth scaling in order to get rid of hardened plaque.


Bleeding gums can, in some cases, be an indication that you have gingivitis. This signifies that you could be in the early stage of contracting periodontal disease. If your gums bleed too easily when you are flossing or brushing, consult your oral health as gingivitis is not only preventable but reversible. The first step would most likely be to start using a toothpaste that helps reverse gingivitis.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Besides flossing and brushing, if you want to have healthy teeth and gums, maintain a healthy balanced diet. This helps you fight gum tissue weakness and ensures your teeth/gums are healthy.

Use Of Medications

Medications like blood thinners, can also cause your gums to bleed slightly, especially after flossing. You may need to contact your physician in case the bleeding doesn’t stop.

Caring For Bleeding Gums After Flossing

The first line of defense is to brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should preferably use a nylon toothbrush and never a medium or hard bristle brush. These will be too hard on you and could harm the gum tissue or ruin tooth material.

Drink Lots Of Water

When you drink lots of water, particularly after eating, you are effectively rinsing off the bacteria and food particles from your teeth. This helps in preventing the bacteria from creating plaque.

Rinse Mouth With Salt Water

Bacteria and mouth inflammation causes gum disease. Therefore, rinsing your mouth regularly with warm salt water may help in reducing bacteria in your mouth and also and stop the gum bleeding.

Use Antiseptic Mouthwash

An antiseptic mouthwash helps in killing the bacteria that contribute to the development of plaque and gum disease. If you have infected gums, it helps to kill the bacteria and also stop the infection from possibly spreading deeper.

Maintain A Balanced Diet

Maintaining a balanced diet full of Calcium and Vitamin C helps in reducing the possibility of contracting gum disease. Such a diet also strengthens your teeth making them less susceptible to decay.

If despite implementing the above preventive measures your gums continue bleeding or if the situation doesn’t improve in about 7 to 10 days, you may need to consult a dentist. The oral health specialist may recommend deep dental cleaning in order to remove the plaque and tartar accumulation.

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.