If you're flossing and notice some bleeding throughout your gums, your first instinct might be to take a break from flossing to allow for healing — but you should actually do the opposite.
"When bleeding is present, the patient should increase flossing (if they're not already doing it at least once per day). When patients are already flossing once per day but still experience bleeding, they may need to discuss any changes they can make to their technique with their dentist or hygienist. Their provider may also recommend additional oral hygiene aids that can address hard to reach areas," Dr. Courtney Hain, DDS, a general and cosmetic dentist with Smile San Fransico, said.
Flossing that causes gum bleeding — whether it's in one spot or throughout the mouth — could be a sign of gum infection, Dr. Hain explained. And while everyone has a unique susceptibility to gum infections, the most common cause is the buildup of plaque bacteria, she added.
"If gums are bleeding after flossing for more than a couple of days, or there is bleeding throughout the mouth, it's a good idea to get in touch with your dentist. Bleeding can be a sign of an infection that can damage the bone supporting the teeth. The infection usually worsens over time, so ignoring bleeding gums can have permanent consequences."
According to Dr. Hain, other gum infection signs include redness, swelling, pain, pus, or a bad odor — but having meticulous oral hygiene can help keep your gums in the best shape.
Generally, though, Dr. Hain recommended flossing one time per day and night to prevent or help heal bleeding gums — and when you see your dentist, ask for flossing tips, too.
"Your dentist and hygienist will help you develop an individualized home care plan and recommend an interval for professional cleanings that keep your gums and teeth healthy."