If you were to wash your hands and they bled afterwards, would you be concerned?  Of course you would!  The health of the gums is quite similar.  Gums can bleed because plaque is accumulating where the toothbrush simply cannot reach.  Plaque contains disease-causing bacteria, so this is why flossing daily is so important.  No matter how well you brush, flossing reaches the areas that the toothbrush misses.  The longer the bacteria accumulates in your mouth, the more it causes bleeding and inflammation.  This can cause your gums as well as the bone underneath to break down, resulting in bone loss around your teeth.

Additionally, when the plaque remains in one spot, undisturbed, it can harden and become calculus, or tartar, and can only be removed by your dental hygienist.  Regular appointments are great for catching cavities while they are small, but also to remove the built-up tartar every six months.  There are other adjuncts to remove plaque besides flossing, including interdental brushes and water flossers.  Patient preference is key — basically if you’ll use it, then do it!

If it has been a while since you have started a daily routine, then your gums may bleed at first.  Don’t let this deter you!  If you keep at it daily, your gums will get healthier and should stop bleeding. Happy Flossing!