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Bleeding Gums First Sign of Periodontal Disease

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

While flossing the other night, my gums bled a little. I haven’t flossed in awhile. Is the floss hurting me? Should I stop?



Dear Worried,

Flossing is very important to maintain healthy teeth and gums, so keep flossing, but on a more regular basis.

Bleeding gums are often the first stages of periodontal or gum disease. Gingivitis results from inadequate plaque removal from the teeth at the gum line. If plaque continues to build, then it will lead to gum disease or infection called periodontitis. Left untreated, teeth can become loose and fall out.

To maintain healthy teeth and gums:

1. Brush teeth after every meal or at least twice daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush.

2. Floss at least once a day.

3. Limit sugary snacks and drinks, which encourage bacteria growth on teeth.

4. Do not smoke.

5. Visit the dentist for teeth cleaning once every six months and check ups every year.

If there is an increase in gum bleeding, gums are swollen, discolored, or gums are pulling away from your teeth, then see your dentist. Otherwise, see if brushing and flossing help improve the gum bleeding.

If you have healthy teeth and gums, then other causes for bleeding gums could be a vitamin deficiency, brushing too vigorously, medications such as blood thinners, hormonal imbalances (i.e. puberty, pregnancy), or medical conditions such as leukemia or diabetes.