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Why Do My Gums Bleed When I Floss?

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A young woman looking in the mirror and flossing while smiling.

If you’re experiencing bleeding gums when you floss, you’re not alone. Many people dread the thought of flossing because it leaves their gums red and sore. However, it’s important not to ignore bleeding gums. While bleeding gums may be due to sensitive gums, they can also be a sign of gum disease known as gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Your dental professional can examine your gums and check for signs of trouble. Flossing and brushing are – essential parts of your family’s oral health, and proper care may help you avoid the need for future surgeries.

What Causes Bleeding Gums?

Bleeding gums after flossing are actually fairly common when you first start flossing regularly, and it’s not usually a serious condition as long as the bleeding stops quickly.  However, if you notice persistent bleeding, it could be a sign of something more serious such as a systemic health concern, or gum disease. 

Rough or Improper flossing

A rough or improper flossing technique is one of the most common causes of bleeding gums. If you’re new to regular flossing, it’s normal to have some bleeding for the first week or so. Even then, you should continue flossing so your gums can get used to the sensation.

However, if the bleeding persists, get in to see your dental hygiene team ASAP.

Poor Nutrition

Good nutrition keeps your body healthy, including your mouth! Bolster your diet with citrus, tomatoes, potatoes, and other foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps maintain healthy gums and teeth and is crucial for collagen production.

Without adequate vitamin C, your gums may become inflamed, leading to bleeding. This is called scurvy in severe cases, and it doesn’t just affect pirates!


Certain medications, particularly blood-thinning medications, can cause bleeding gums. If you notice consistent bleeding while flossing and are taking a new medication, consult your physician. They may be able to adjust your medication or recommend a different treatment.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause increased sensitivity to plaque bacteria and vascular changes, resulting in gum inflammation and increased bleeding, sometimes called pregnancy gingivitis. Proper brushing and flossing can help with tender, bleeding gums during pregnancy. Clean gently across the gum line, as this is where gum disease starts.

Be sure to let your dentist and physician know if you’re experiencing these symptoms. They could help you stop it from progressing to periodontal disease.


Smoking is one of the most significant causes of gum disease. . It can introduce more harmful bacteria to the mouth and on your teeth while at the same time reducing the body’s ability to fight infections. More harmful bacteria can lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease, and loss of bone support of the teeth.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions, such as diabetes and leukemia, can also contribute to bleeding gums. Some may not cause bleeding themselves but instead increase the risk of gum disease. If you have an underlying medical condition, consult your physician and dentist for advice on preventing bleeding gums.

Gingivitis & Periodontitis

If your gums are inflamed, you may have gingivitis or a more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Plaque and tartar buildup are direct causes of gingivitis, and they form when you don’t have proper daily brushing and flossing habits. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.

Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing is a common symptom of gingivitis. Other symptoms can include:

  • Red gums, or a change in gum colour
  • A persistent metallic taste
  • Bad breath
  • Puffy, shiny, or sore gums
  • Sensitive teeth

The Importance of Healthy Oral Hygiene

You should brush twice a day and floss daily. Making this a habit can remove bacteria and food particles in your mouth, reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease. And the benefits extend to the rest of your body.

Studies have shown that your mouth’s health is linked to your body’s health. Poor oral hygiene has been shown to be linked to several health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The bacteria in your mouth can also travel to other parts of your body through your bloodstream, leading to infections and inflammation.

Other Benefits

Bad breath, yellow teeth, and, yes, those bleeding gums we’ve been talking about could negatively impact how you feel about your smile. Taking care of your oral hygiene can help improve the appearance of your smile, so you can be proud to show it off.

Maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits can also save you money in the long run. Brushing and flossing are relatively less expensive than dental treatments such as fillings, root canals, and extractions.

Maybe most importantly for parents, healthy oral hygiene habits can set a good example for your kids. By instilling these routines at an early age, you can promote dental health throughout life.

A woman in a dentist's office smiling and shaking hands with her dentist while a dental assistant is working in the background.

When Should I See a Dentist?

If your gums are bleeding profusely or persistently after flossing, see your dentist as soon as you can. While gingivitis can sound scary, it can almost always be reversed with proper care.

And, prevention is easier than treatment. Most people should see their dentist at least every 6 months. Some people may require more frequent checkups, but always follow your dental professional’s recommendations. Your oral health is their priority.

Focusing On Your Oral Health

Maintaining good oral hygiene is key to your overall well-being. Focus on your long-term oral health by brushing and flossing every day. Combine that with regular visits to our experienced team at False Creek Dental, and your smile can stay bright and healthy for years into the future.If you’re concerned about bleeding after flossing, book an exam with us. We’re always happy to see you!

Written by Dr. Lisa Reino

Dr. Lisa Reino, a native of Dunbar, Vancouver, is a highly accomplished dentist with a passion for transforming smiles and empowering lives. With a strong educational background, she obtained her B.Sc. in Psychology from UBC, followed by her DMD in 1993. Driven by a commitment to excellence, Dr. Reino further honed her skills through a one-year residency in hospital dentistry. She also pursued specialized training in smoking cessation and oral cancer screening, ensuring comprehensive care for her patients.

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