Bleeding when flossing is an issue that our patients at Sven Bone Dentistry in Bozeman ask about from time to time. They wonder: should I stop flossing if that happens? The answer is no. Bleeding is probably a sign that you need to clean your teeth and gums more often and more thoroughly, not leave them alone.
It is challenging to clean effectively between teeth without using floss or an interdental brush. If you don’t usually floss, your gums might bleed at first. Keep flossing gently and the bleeding often stops within a week or two.
It could be an early sign of gum disease. Gingivitis and the more advanced periodontal disease are too common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that half of American adults aged 30 and over have periodontal disease.
It is important 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 you settle on, make sure you clean around every tooth, including the back surfaces of the last molars.
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