Why are my gums bleeding when I floss?

Why are my gums bleeding when I floss?

Bleeding gums can be a symptom of gum (periodontal) disease. Today, our North York dentists at 5000 Yonge explain why you shouldn’t stop flossing if you notice that your gums are bleeding when you do so.


What are bleeding gums? 

Have you ever looked in the mirror after brushing your teeth and noticed that your gums were bleeding or inflamed? You’re not alone. Many Canadians will spot this symptom this year, but it’s not a normal consequence of flossing - and you should take action and brush up on your oral hygiene routine as soon as possible.

Potential Causes of Bleeding Gums

While occasionally, brushing too aggressively or wearing dentures that fit too tightly can cause bleeding gums, this can often be a sign of more serious dental care issues or oral health-related conditions, such as gum disease.

Gingivitis & Periodontitis

If you don’t brush or floss correctly, plaque accumulates on the gum line, then hardens into tartar. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and can cause your gums to become puffy, sore, and inflamed - and eventually, to bleed.

Periodontitis is the second, more serious stage of gum disease. This infection invades the bones and tissues that connect your gums to your teeth, and can eventually lead to tooth loss.

What should I do if my gums bleed when I’m flossing?

Visit your dentist when you first notice bleeding gums so your periodontal health can be assessed. In the meantime, you can do a few things at home to prevent and treat bleeding gums, including:

  • Floss once per day
  • Before flossing, thoroughly brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush and gentle fluoride toothpaste
  • Rinse thoroughly with an anti-gingivitis, alcohol-free mouthwash
  • See your dentist every 6 months and discuss any sensitivity, soreness or other changes

If you’re just getting into a regular flossing routine, it’s important not to stop if your gums bleed the first few times you floss. This may be because they are inflamed, and aren’t used to being flossed regularly. The bleeding should cease with regular flossing.

Your North York dentist is your partner in your daily battle against gum disease and other issues related to oral health, so coming in regularly for professional cleanings is critical. He or she can also offer tips on proper oral hygiene, flossing and brushing techniques to help make it easier to reach the more challenging spots in your mouth. 

Depending on the cause of your bleeding gums, your dentist may want to take new dental impressions to ensure your dentures fit correctly or prescribe a vigorous dental care routine that can put you back on track to maintaining a healthy smile and gums.


Have questions about gum health or good flossing techniques? Contact our North York dentists today to schedule an appointment. We are happy to provide advice and guidance.

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