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If My Gums Bleed, Should I Stop Flossing?

bleeding gums Alexandria

This is an essential question occasionally asked by patients at Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry. The answer, however, is “No!” Bleeding is probably a sign that you need to clean your teeth and gums more thoroughly – not leave them alone. It is 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 you use floss. The bleeding may be due to dangerous gum inflammation, the beginnings of gum disease. Keep flossing gently and the bleeding generally stops within a week or two.

Gingivitis (gum disease) and the more advanced periodontal disease is extremely common in Virginia and around the country. 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, unlike dental caries, gum disease can be reversed with improved oral hygiene.

It is important to correctly use dental floss to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth:

  1. Cut a length of floss about 18 inches long.
  2. Securely wind each end around your middle fingers.
  3. Take hold of the floss with your forefinger and thumb leaving about two inches to work with.
  4. Thread the floss between two teeth.
  5. 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 critical to scrape up and out of the pocket.
  6. 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 operation you settle upon, 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 see bleeding? Call Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry at 703-360-5881 to schedule a consultation. Drs. Geren & Mady, DDS, will carry out an intensive examination to determine the cause of the bleeding.

At Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry, our goal is to help patients preserve healthy teeth and gums. Our dental hygienists not only complete the most thorough dental cleanings, they also educate patients on proper brushing and flossing. If you have a child who needs extra help learning how to brush and floss correctly, schedule an appointment with our Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry child-friendly team.

Some patients have perfectly healthy teeth and gums but are not satisfied with their smile due to cosmetic problems. If you want to explore possibilities for improving your smile, talk to us today at 703-360-5881.

We offer state-of-the-art cosmetic dental procedures including teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, dental crowns, inlays/onlays, and tooth-colored filling replacement. Ask us about oral sedation options if you need help relaxing during dental treatment. You can count on us to maintain the highest standard of safety and sterility at Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry.

Contact Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry: 703-360-5881

Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

8101 Hinson Farm Rd Ste 114
Alexandria, Virginia
22306

Office Hours: Mt. Vernon Center for Dentistry
Mon 8:00am-5:00pm
Tue 7:00am-3:00pm
Wed 7:00am-3:00pm
Thu 7:00am-3:00pm
Fri 7:00am-12:00pm
Open Every Friday
Center for Dental Anesthesia
Mon 7:00am-3:00pm
Tue 7:00am-3:00pm
Wed 7:00am-3:00pm
Thu 7:00am-3:00pm
Fri 7:00am-12:00pm
Open Every Other Friday

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