If you want to keep your smile healthy, it’s important to take good care of both your teeth and your gums. Many dentists recommend flossing, but sometimes it can cause your gums to bleed and feel tender. Here’s how flossing affects your gums long term.
Why Dentists Recommend Flossing
Dentists recommend flossing daily because it’s an effective way to clean your teeth and gums of food debris and plaque. Brushing is still important, but studies show that brushing alone only reaches about 60% of the surface area of your teeth. Flossing can help to reach those hidden and difficult-to-reach areas where food debris and plaque can build up and cause gum disease and cavities.
Why Flossing Makes Your Gums Bleed
Many people wonder why flossing makes your gums bleed and feel tender if it’s so good for them. It’s normal for your gums to bleed if you haven’t flossed regularly in a while. When gums have been exposed to bacteria-containing plaque for long periods of time, it can cause them to become inflamed.
How flossing affects your gums is to help clear away the cause of the inflammation so that your gums can heal and become healthy again. As your gums get healthier, they’ll bleed less. In the meantime, it may be helpful to use gentle or expanding floss. Gentle floss is made of a thick, spongy, stretchy material that is softer on tender gums while also doing an excellent job of cleaning.
For patients who are new to flossing, it can sometimes feel difficult to master the technique of holding the floss properly. Especially if the patient is young, elderly, or has a condition such as arthritis that affects their manual dexterity or grip.
If you’re having difficulty flossing, talk to your dentist about it. Your dentist will be happy to help you find a solution to make flossing possible such as a new technique for holding the floss or new tools such as floss picks or a waterpik flosser.
When to Visit the Dentist
If it’s been a while since you’ve flossed regularly or if you notice that your gums appear red, puffy, tender, or bleed excessively when brushing or flossing, it’s important to see your dentist for an exam to check for signs of advanced gum disease. It’s also a great opportunity to talk with your dentist about how flossing affects your gums so that they can offer tips to alleviate any discomfort until your gums become less inflamed. You can feel confident that you are giving your gums the best care possible.
Call our Phoenix Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.