One of the most common explanations that dental patients give for not flossing their teeth is that their gums hurt or bleed when they floss. Many people interpret this symptom as a red flag that they are doing something wrong, or causing more harm than good to the area. After all, you shouldn’t do something that makes yourself bleed, right?
The truth is that if your gums are healthy, they will not bleed when you floss them. However, gums with gingivitis or gum disease will bleed when you floss them. This is due to the body’s immune system sending antibodies into an area infected with plaque bacteria. When something such as floss disturbs the plaque, the blood supply to the infection becomes evident. Sometimes even brushing along the gumlines where gingivitis exists will produce bleeding or gum irritation. Irregular removal of the plaque bacteria allows the infection to continue, and the cycle repeats itself. Gradually over time, the area of gingivitis will worsen into gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss.
By flossing the area again and again, you can expect to remove the infection-causing bacterial plaque. When cleaned thoroughly each day, the infection goes away, and the immune system stops sending antibodies to the area. The result: no more bleeding when you floss. It typically takes effective flossing at least once a day for two weeks before symptoms go away.
To floss correctly, wrap the floss snuggly around each tooth in a “C” shape, then slide the floss up and down below the gums several times before coming up and moving over to the next tooth. Never go straight up and down or simply side-to-side, as this can damage the delicate gum tissue.
Posted on the behalf of Sarah Roberts
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