How concerned should I be if I experience bleeding after brushing or flossing my teeth?
If you are experiencing bleeding of the gums it is important not to ignore it, as it might be a sign of underlying bacterial problems. If left untreated it can have devastating effects on the health of your teeth. Gingival bleeding generally has two main causes – trauma from brushing or flossing too hard, and gingivitis. Gingivitis is distinct from localised trauma as the gums will appear swollen, red and inflamed and will bleed easily. Inflammation of the gums is related to oral bacteria which combine with mucus to form sticky plaque on teeth. Through daily brushing, flossing and using interdental brushes this plaque can be removed. However, if plaque is not fully removed it can harden to form calculus, which will further irritate and inflame the gingival tissue. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis which is irreversible, though manageable with dental treatment. Periodontitis is characterised by a loss of bone surrounding the teeth which can eventually result in tooth loss. For this reason it is essential to have regular teeth cleans with a dentist or oral hygienist. Just as brushing is important for keeping teeth clean, daily flossing is important for keeping gums healthy. It is a common misconception that if your gums bleed when you floss that you should stop flossing. Don’t become disheartened as initial bleeding indicates that the gums are still inflamed and require further flossing. After continual flossing for two weeks, bleeding will noticeably subside as the gums improve in health and inflammation ceases. Remember to keep in mind that you don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep.