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Wheel of fortune; oh my bleeding gums

Questions on what you should know about when your gums bleed with answers from our professional, Peter Drews of Drews Dental Services.

Are Bleeding Gums Normal?

The short answer is no, bleeding gums are not generally normal, but they’re way more common than you think.

Let’s face it, we all know flossing doesn’t always make the cut in our daily routines. But here’s the deal: your gums are just as important as your pearly whites, and they deserve some TLC too. I often hear folks say things like, “Flossing hurts!” or “My gums bleed, so I skip it.” So let’s talk about why this happens and why it’s crucial to address it.

Let’s dive in, set the record straight, and discover why your gums bleed, whether or not you should brush and floss if your gums are tender or bleeding, and how to make a concerted effort to keep your gums in tip-top shape.

Why do my gums bleed?

When plaque, debris, or tartar accumulates around your gums, it’s like having unwanted guests crashing a party. The host (aka your gums) get all irritated because, well, they weren’t expecting these uninvited visitors (aka the plaque, debris, and/or tartar). As a result, they start to rebel by turning all red and even pulling away from your teeth. It’s their way of trying to kick the party crashers to the curb.

There are several other reasons your gums may be bleeding including: aggressive brushing, gingivitis, hormonal changes, certain medications, vitamin deficiencies, nutritional factors, and even systemic diseases. I mention this not to scare you but to let you know it’s important to deal with your bleeding gums because if something is left untreated or undiagnosed, it can lead to tooth loss and other complications. If you’ve tried everything and you’re still dealing with bleeding gums, have a conversation with your dentist. We’re here to help you evaluate your situation and give you some guidance!

Should I brush or floss if my gums bleed?

Yes, you should continue brushing and flossing gently – even if your gums bleed.

When you brush or floss irritated gums, they start to bleed and feel painfully tender. The soreness makes you want to skip the entire routine. The problem with that is, skipping the routine only makes things worse – it exacerbates your discomfort in the long run.

Brushing is effective on the visible surfaces of your teeth, but there’s still plaque that’s trapped in between your teeth. It’s like a secret hideout where plaque often sets up camp and causes trouble. When plaque lingers there, it increases the risk of developing cavities in those hard-to-reach places and, even worse, can lead to a condition called gingivitis, where the gums become inflamed due to bacterial buildup.

That’s why it’s important to give some TLC to  those spots your toothbrush can’t quite reach through regular flossing to keep both cavities and gingivitis at bay.

Not flossing keeps plaque and bacteria that cannot be removed with a toothbrush on your teeth longer, irritating your gums.

Am I flossing correctly?

If you’re questioning your flossing techniques, you’re not alone. If you’re not questioning it, you should be. Flossing correctly isn’t quite as easy as it should be, but the beauty is practice makes perfect. It’s honestly pretty easy to work into your routine once you master the skill.

Dr. Peter Drews - Drews Dental Service


Dr. Peter Drews is a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry, past president of the Androscoggin Valley Dental Society, and past President of the Maine Dental Association. He is currently serving as Treasurer for the Androscoggin Valley Dental Society. Practicing general and cosmetic dentistry in central Maine, Dr. Drews professionally serves families and individuals of the Lewiston and Auburn Maine communities. 


Drew's Dental Services - Pros Who Know - LA Metro Magazine