What do Bleeding Gums Mean?


Bleeding gums are a common sign of inflammation. When many people see blood when they floss, they stop doing it. In fact, the blood usually means to floss more, not less. Within reason, of course. In this post, we’ll cover how to properly floss and explore why gums bleed in the first place.

What’s the correct way to floss?

Gently! Flossing should be done up and down hugging each tooth like a “C”, once a day and when food is caught. It is also important to have regular professional cleanings, at least every six months, since there are likely areas that you can’t reach at home. There may also be other underlying causes of the bleeding, so it is important to discuss with your dentist.

Why do gums bleed?

One of the most common causes of inflammation is buildup – of food, plaque (the soft debris that sticks to your teeth), and/or calculus (the debris that’s hardened onto your teeth).  There are areas, especially under the gums, that may be difficult if not impossible to reach and clean on your own.  Over time this stuff hardens and creates a pebble-in-shoe effect.  Every time you chew, the hard points poke your gums much the way a pebble stuck in your shoe would poke your foot.  After a while, this repeated trauma causes inflammation and bleeding and soreness.  Good home care helps to prevent this process, but routine cleanings at your dental office are necessary to reach the areas you can’t reach and to take off the hard buildup, which you won’t be able to remove on your own.

Are bleeding gums normal?

A little “pink in the sink” from bleeding gums is never normal, and it is important to have a professional evaluation to determine the potential causes and plan of treatment and prevention.  While bleeding should not be considered normal and is not sign of good oral health, it is even more important to tell your doctor if you find your gums bleed even when you’re not brushing or flossing, as certain systemic conditions may contribute to this spontaneous bleeding.

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  • Kenneth S. Magid, DDS, FICD
  • Sabrina Magid-Katz, DMD
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