“Should I stop flossing my teeth if my gums bleed?” We are asked this occasionally at David Rice, DDS in Elgin. The answer is “No!” Bleeding is probably a sign that you need to clean your teeth and gums more thoroughly, and may be an early sign of developing gum disease.
What constitutes effective, thorough cleaning? It is practically impossible to clean effectively between teeth without using floss or an interdental brush.
If you have never flossed before, your gums might bleed the first few times. The bleeding may be due to harmful gum inflammation, the beginnings of gum disease. Keep flossing gently; in most patients, the bleeding generally stops within a week or two.
Gingivitis (gum disease) and the more advanced periodontal disease is extremely common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that half of American adults aged 30 and over have periodontal disease.
If you don’t make flossing a habit, and your gums become sore, swollen, and tender, it could bring about gum disease. The good news is that there is effective gum disease treatment available at David Rice DDS.
It is essential to correctly use dental floss to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth:
- Cut a length of floss about 18 inches long.
- Securely wind each end around your middle fingers.
- Take hold of the floss with your forefinger and thumb leaving about two inches to work with.
- Thread the floss between two teeth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the side of the tooth and move it up and away from the gumline. You want to clean the space between the tooth and gum without pulling more gum tissue away, so it’s vital to scrape up and out of the pocket.
- Move the floss around the tooth to clean every surface—especially those that your brush can’t reach. As you use a section of floss, unwind from one hand to access a clean piece. With 18 inches, you should have enough to provide a clean section for every tooth. If you run out, that’s okay. Just toss the used piece and cut a new one.
Some people find it easier to start on one end on the upper teeth and clean each gap one by one, until they reach the end on the opposite side. Then repeat for the bottom row. Whatever system you select, make sure you clean around every tooth, including the back surfaces of the last molars.
What if you continue flossing for a few weeks and still notice bleeding? Call our office to schedule a consultation. David Rice, DDS, will perform a thorough examination to determine the cause of the bleeding.
At David A. Rice, DDS, our goal is to help patients keep healthy teeth and gums. Our dental hygienists not only carry out the most thorough dental cleanings, they also educate patients on proper brushing and flossing.
Some patients have perfectly healthy teeth and gums but are not comfortable with their smile. If you want to see what cosmetic dentistry can do for you, give us a call.
At David Rice DDS in Elgin, we offer cutting-edge cosmetic dental services including teeth whitening, and porcelain veneers. If you need help relaxing during treatment, ask us about sedation dentistry.