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It can be scary to have bleeding gums after you floss, but this isn't always a sign of serious trouble. If your gums bleed when flossing, it could be a sign of common oral health issues your dentist can help with that are not as serious as gum disease. It could also simply be the way you've been flossing. Here are six of the most common causes of bleeding gums.

Bleeding gums have a lot of causes ranging from probably not a big deal to something very serious that needs to get checked. Reasons you might have bleeding gums include the following.

  1. Bacterial Buildup
    Bacteria live all over your mouth and your gums will try to flush them out if they can. When you brush or floss, especially if you remove tartar or plaque buildup, your gums can bleed to flush the tissues and protect the site. This is more likely to happen when it's been a while since you've had a cleaning or if you have an infection causing gum inflammation.
  2. Your Flossing Technique
    Improper technique is one of the most common reasons for bleeding gums. If you're pressing too hard or scraping the surface of the gums, you can get small wounds that bleed for a bit. Brushing too hard also causes bleeding gums sometimes. Your brush might be too stiff or you could be pressing too hard for your gums, which can also cause bleeding.
  3. Badly Fitted Appliances
    Dentures and braces can both cause bleeding gums. If they're not fit quite right or if you have a loose wire somewhere, you might get a bit of blood sometimes. This is most likely to happen after you brush or floss because you might be pushing the loose bits of the braces into a soft spot on your gums.
  4. Changes in Your Blood
    Certain hormonal changes can make you more likely to bleed from the gums. Pregnant women sometimes experience bleeding gums without an obvious reason, as can people taking blood thinners and some other medications. People who have clotting disorders, such as hemophilia, might also experience bleeding gums from time to time.
  5. Gum Disease
    Gingivitis is one of the most common diseases in the world, and huge numbers of people have at least some gum irritation caused by infection or tooth decay. If you have periodontal disease like this, you might also have a puffy, red-looking gum line that aches or itches. Bleeding at odd times, not just while flossing, can also be a symptom of gum disease.
  6. Vitamin Deficiency
    Gums can bleed because you have a vitamin deficiency. Scurvy is caused by a lack of vitamin C, which is really rare in the Western world these days. Vitamin K deficiency can also show up as bleeding gums.

Is it Normal for Your Gums to Bleed?

Your gums can bleed for a lot of different reasons, and thankfully it's usually not serious. Most people experience at least occasional gum bleeding from time to time, and if there aren't other signs of trouble, it's probably not a symptom of major health issues. You're especially likely to notice some bleeding from your gums if it's been a while since you've regularly flossed or if you have tartar buildup on the gum line.

How Long Does It Take for Gums to Stop Bleeding When Flossing?

It's pretty normal for gums to bleed if you're not in the habit of flossing, but this doesn't last forever. As a rule, your gums should stop bleeding after 1-3 days of regular flossing. If your gums are bleeding for longer than this, it's a good idea to book an appointment to have a dentist take a look to make sure everything is okay.

Even if it's been a while since you fell out of the habit of daily flossing, good brushing techniques can help keep bleeding gums to a minimum. Twice-daily brushing helps promote healthy teeth, and the gentle massaging of the gum line helps stimulate healthy blood flow and firm up the gum tissue and reduce bleeding.

What's the Right Way to Floss?

There's definitely a right way to floss, which can help keep gum disease under control and reduce gum inflammation. First, pull a length of about 18 inches of dental floss and wind it around the middle fingers on each hand. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers with 1-2 inches between them. Gently work the floss between two teeth with a gentle zig-zag motion until it's seated well between the teeth, and be sure not to let it snap into the space. Bend the floss around the first tooth in a C shape and gently scour off the plaque, starting at the gum line and working outward. Floss up and down each tooth, getting the back of the teeth as well, and try to get a little under the gum line.

How Often Should You Floss Your Teeth?

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing at least once a day to promote good oral health and prevent gum bleeding. You can floss more often, of course, and the ADA suggests doing it right after you eat. This helps get at the plaque between teeth and fights tooth decay, bad breath, and a number of other issues like gingivitis.

Do I Have Gum Disease?

It can be hard to tell if you have gum disease, and only your dentist can tell you for sure if that's what's making your gums bleed. Symptoms of gum disease include swollen, sensitive, or bleeding gums.

How Your Dentist Can Help

Your dentist is a vital part of good gum health. Together with a dental hygienist and other teammates, your care team can give you good advice about why gums bleed, how to floss the right way, and when it's time for a professional dental cleaning.

Other Bleeding Gums Remedies You Can Try

If your gums bleed when you floss, you can try a few things to keep healthy gums. Brushing twice a day is important, along with regular flossing. Use a soft toothbrush that doesn't irritate your gums as much as a stiffer brush would, and try massaging your gums in gentle circular motions to promote healthy circulation and good gum health.

Now that you know why your gums bleed when flossing, we'd like to help you take care of your teeth. Book an appointment at one of our convenient locations so we can determine what the root cause of your bleeding gums is. We offer interest-free payment plans with no credit checks to make family dentistry easy to reach for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What deficiency causes bleeding gums?

The most common vitamin deficiencies to cause bleeding gums are vitamins C and K.

What does it mean if your gums randomly bleed?

Bleeding from the gums at random times with no apparent cause might be nothing, or it could be a sign of a serious health concern. Book an appointment with a dentist without delay to discuss what might be happening.

How long does it take for bleeding gums to heal?

How long it takes for gums to heal depends on how seriously they're injured. Bleeding from flossing should stop in 1-3 days, and bleeding that goes on longer than that should be looked into.

Does smoking cause bleeding gums?

In addition to the many other health issues smoking causes, the irritating chemicals in tobacco smoke can trigger gingivitis and even loosen the gums' grip on teeth over time. This accelerates tooth decay and tooth loss, requiring restorative dentistry to fix.

Does stress cause bleeding gums?

Long-term stress has effects all over the body, from elevated blood pressure to a weakened immune system. This can show up as bleeding gums sometimes.

What foods help heal gums?

Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts and pistachios, have anti-inflammatory properties. Because most bleeding gums are inflamed, the thinking is that omega-3 doesn't hurt, but the science is still out on how helpful it can be.

Cavities are one of the most common dental conditions in children, teens, and adults. In most cases, cavities are generally easy to treat with simple dental fillings or crowns — if they're caught in time. While it can take some time for early tooth decay to develop into a full-blown cavity, many dentists prefer that patients treat their cavities as soon as possible vs. leaving them untreated.

If you have symptoms of a cavity and you're wondering exactly how long is too long to let it go untreated, this blog post is for you! Below, you'll learn more about cavity causes, symptoms, and their overall timelines.

What Is a Cavity?

Cavities are areas of tooth decay that develop on the teeth's chewing surfaces, roots, and around dental restorations such as fillings and crowns. Tooth decay occurs when sticky plaque releases acids that erode the tooth enamel. When the sugars in the foods you eat and beverages you drink mix with the bacteria that are naturally present in your mouth, plaque can form and stick to the tooth surfaces. Over time, the acids in the plaque can damage your tooth enamel to the point where a cavity develops.

How Do You Know If You Have a Cavity?

While a common belief is that cavities are black or brown, did you know that they actually start off as white spots? Referred to as early decay, these white spots are the first sign of a pending cavity. If you notice white spots or flecks on your teeth, the good news is that this type of tooth decay can often be reversed with fluoride toothpaste and fluoride treatments.
Aside from white specks that are often so mild they go unnoticed, you might not notice any signs of a cavity in its early stages. New cavities don't usually cause any painful or uncomfortable symptoms but as they progress, you may experience tooth sensitivity or pain when biting down. You may also notice the telltale dark spots or streaks on your tooth surfaces that don't come off when you brush your teeth.

What Happens If You Don’t Treat a Cavity?

One of the most important facts about cavities is that they don't go away on their own. Even if you have a slow-growing cavity, it should be treated at some point to prevent the decay from spreading. As a cavity spreads, it affects a larger portion of the tooth. This can make it difficult to treat with a standard dental filling.

In addition to forming a large cavity, progressing tooth decay can make its way deep into the tooth and expose the tooth roots. This can be extremely painful and increase the risk of infection. In some cases, untreated cavities can cause the tooth pulp to become severely inflamed or infected.

How Long Can You Delay Treatment on a Cavity Still in the Enamel?

In some cases, early signs of tooth erosion in the enamel can be successfully treated with fluoride toothpaste or surface filling materials. But once an actual cavity forms, dentists usually recommend treating it within a year. It's also important to note that timelines can vary depending on your specific dental needs. Some people have softer enamel than others, which can cause cavities to progress rapidly.

As a cavity grows, it can move from the enamel into the deeper tooth layers and eventually make its way into the pulp. The best way to determine how long you can delay treatment on an enamel cavity is to schedule a dental exam. Your dentist will take X-rays to check the size and progression of your cavity. If they feel you can wait before treatment, they'll give you an exact timeline.

How Long Can You Delay Treatment on a Cavity That Is in the Dentin?

Once a cavity begins to form in the dentin, it's important to treat it as soon as possible. The exact length of time between cavity formation in the dentin until it reaches the tooth roots can vary but this can sometimes happen in as little as 3 months. It's always best to follow the advice of your dentist when it comes to delaying treatment. They may recommend a "watch and wait" approach if the cavity has just started to form or they might suggest immediate treatment if they detect that your cavity is rapidly progressing.

How Long Can You Delay Treatment on a Cavity in the Pulp?

If your dentist diagnoses a cavity in the dental pulp, the sooner you receive treatment, the better! Pulp cavities usually require root canal treatment to prevent further damage to the tooth. During a root canal procedure, a dentist or dental specialist uses specialized tools to remove bacteria, decay, and damaged tissues from the inside of the tooth. Once the tooth is cleaned and treated, a large filling or crown is placed over the remaining tooth structure.

Causes of Cavities

Cavities develop when plaque forms on the teeth and releases acids that can eat away at the tooth enamel. The bacteria naturally present in your mouth feed on the sugars in the foods and beverages you consume, and the end result is dental plaque. Plaque is sticky, which makes it easier to adhere to tooth surfaces. 

Over time, plaque releases acids that cause demineralization, also known as tooth decay. As the tooth decay progresses, the acids eat through the deeper enamel layers, causing cavities. Plaque can be very stubborn, which is why brushing at least twice a day and after meals is so important. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste can help neutralize plaque and plaque acids and lower your risk of developing cavities.

How Are Cavities Treated by Dentists?

During a cavity treatment procedure, the dentist uses a drill or other specialized dental tool to remove the decayed areas. Once the "cavity" portion of the tooth is effectively removed, the dentist fills the empty space with a metal or composite filling. For deep cavities in which a large portion of the tooth is removed, your dentist may recommend placing a dental crown to ensure the tooth surface is strong enough to withstand chewing and clenching pressure.  
If you're scheduled for cavity treatment and you're worried about pain, don't be! In most cases, filling procedures aren't painful. You may feel a slight pinch when the dentist numbs your gums and the drilling can feel a little strange. Still, you shouldn't feel any pain once you're all numbed up.

If you've got a toothache or you're concerned about a potential cavity, our teammates at Risas Dental are standing by and ready to assist! We offer affordable dental care with easy payment options for all budgets and credit types. Book an appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What would be considered a dental emergency?

Some common dental emergencies include cracked or broken teeth, abscessed teeth, severe jaw pain, soft tissue injuries, and heavily bleeding gums. Similar to medical emergencies, a dental emergency is any situation that requires immediate treatment.

How do you know if a cavity has reached the root?

One of the most common signs of a cavity that's reached the root is throbbing pain in the affected area. You may feel pain or pressure when chewing, or your tooth might be sensitive to hot and cold. Tender, swollen gums surrounding the affected tooth are another common symptom of root cavities.

When you go for your checkup at the dentist, one of the last things you want to hear is the words "root canal." Treating a root canal isn't very fun. After all, it takes some time and causes a bit of discomfort. Still, it's essential: ignoring a root canal issue can cause the problem to spread to other areas of the mouth, leading to serious dental problems and even other potential health problems. So, how do you know if you need a root canal? Find out the seven common warning signs that root canal therapy is in your future.

What Is a Root Canal?

First, it's important to understand what a root canal is. A root canal is a type of endodontic treatment — a treatment that works on the inside of the tooth. A root canal treatment aims to repair an extremely damaged or infected tooth in the hopes of avoiding tooth removal. The treatment is called a root "canal" because the process includes cleaning out inside the canals of the roots of the tooth.

A root canal is a fairly straightforward procedure. Your dentist will extract all the bacteria from the tooth pulp, nerve, and root. Then, the area is disinfected with antibiotics and the empty roots are filled. The last step is to close the area to prevent new decay.

What Parts of the Tooth Are Involved in a Root Canal?

The root canal focuses on the inside of the tooth. With this procedure, the damaged or infected tooth pulp from inside the crown and roots of the tooth is cleaned. After the cleaning, the canal is disinfected, filled, and sealed.

7 Signs You Need a Root Canal

Here are the seven most common signs that you may need a root canal.

  1. Persistent Pain

Your teeth shouldn't cause you constant pain. If you're finding that you're continuously in pain or the pain frequently bothers you, stops, and then returns, it could be a sign you need a root canal. Persistent pain can be due to a damaged root in your tooth.

Of course, persistent pain can also be due to other dental problems such as a cavity or a damaged filling. To address your tooth pain, see a dentist immediately — after all, no one wants to live with pain!

  1. Chipped or Cracked Teeth

When you chip or crack a tooth, it becomes more at risk for a root canal. The tooth is now "open," and bacteria can easily access the inside of the tooth, which can result in an infection. Alternatively, the tooth may have chipped or cracked in the first place because it's infected or decayed, which left it weak. Regardless, it's always a good idea to get a chipped or cracked tooth checked out by a dentist.

  1. Sensitivity to Heat and Cold

Believe it or not, your teeth aren't supposed to shock you with pain when you eat something cold or hot. If this happens, it could be a sign that the nerves in your teeth are damaged or infected. When your tooth's pulp chamber is infected, the nerves in the pulp chamber can overreact to heat or cold. Overreaction causes a sharp or dull pain that often lingers.

  1. Swollen Gums

Your gums are often a great indicator of your overall oral health. Healthy gums are firm and pink. If you notice a painful tooth has swollen gums surrounding it, this could mean you need a root canal. The swelling occurs from the acidic waste products of dead pulp tissues, and a root canal can help treat the tooth and decrease swelling in the gums.

  1. Tooth Discoloration

If the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, it can sometimes lead to your tooth turning a grayish-black color. A lack of blood supply to the tooth pulp can result in the breakdown of internal tissue, which might then be followed by discoloration.

Tooth discoloration doesn't always require a root canal and can instead be due to another dental problem. Regardless, you shouldn't ignore discolored teeth.

  1. Tooth Mobility

Tooth mobility is the medical term for a loose tooth. When a nerve is damaged, it can cause a tooth to become dislodged and feel looser. There are other reasons for tooth mobility, but root canal therapy may be necessary if you have a loose tooth.

  1. Deep Decay

Letting a cavity go for a long time without treatment can result in deep decay. Deep decay is when an infection has set so far into the tooth that regular oral hygiene care, or brushing and flossing, can't help. Once deep decay has set in, a root canal is often the only solution before the tooth has to be fitted with a crown.

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

Thanks to advances in modern medicine, root canals are often painless for patients. A dentist can use a combination of anesthetics and modern dental techniques, making the procedure as pain-free as possible. Patients might experience some discomfort in the tooth area for a few days post-treatment but over-the-counter pain medication can help.

Don't ignore the warning signs. If you think you might need a root canal, we recommend scheduling an appointment at one of our convenient locations


How do I know if I need a root canal or just a filling?

If you have mild symptoms, such as some slight tooth pain or sensitivity, it could mean that you just need a filling. But if you have moderate to extreme symptoms, such as tooth
discoloration, persistent tooth pain, or a loose tooth, it's far more likely you'll need a root canal. Ultimately, only a professional dentist can confirm what kind of treatment you need.

What are the alternatives to root canal treatment?

If you need a root canal, the only alternative is removing the infected tooth. According to the American Association of Endodontists, this isn't the best approach. Whenever possible, it's always best to try to save the natural tooth as an artificial tooth cannot fully replace the look or function of a natural tooth.

How should I prepare for root canal treatment?

You might be nervous about your root canal therapy but rest assured, this is a straightforward procedure that your dentist performs regularly. There's little you need to or should do before your root canal. However, make sure you ask your dentist any questions you have so you know what to expect during and after the procedure.

Can you cure a root canal naturally?

No, an infected, damaged, or dying tooth cannot repair itself. Over time, the tooth will only worsen without treatment and can even spread damage to surrounding areas. Even if someone doesn't feel pain, an infected tooth should always get treated.

Who should perform your root canal procedure?

A root canal procedure can be performed by a regular dentist. In some cases, a more complicated case will need to be performed by an endodontist. An endodontist is a highly skilled dentist specializing in tooth pain and root canal procedures.

How long do the results of a root canal last?

If an experienced dentist performs the root canal correctly, the results can last a lifetime.

While loose teeth in children occur naturally unless they're caused by an accident, a loose tooth in an adult often indicates a deeper issue that should be addressed as soon as possible. Gum disease, stress-induced tooth clenching, underlying medical conditions, and even medications can all contribute to loose teeth in adults.

If you've got a loose permanent tooth, it's important to schedule a dental checkup right away. A professional dentist can correctly diagnose the underlying cause and advise on the best treatment options to help prevent permanent tooth loss. We've also created this informative article to help you learn more about the common causes of loose teeth in adults and how dentists treat the condition.

What Does a Loose Tooth Feel Like?

A loose adult tooth feels similar to a loose baby tooth. When you touch the tooth with your tongue, it could feel wiggly or wobbly. You might also feel pressure or pain when biting down or brushing your teeth. Loose adult teeth can also cause inflamed, painful gums that bleed easily. If your loose tooth is caused by an impact injury, it might appear angled in the tooth socket or feel like it's turned around when you touch it with your finger or tongue.

What Causes Loose Teeth in Adults?

Loose teeth in adults have many different causes. In many cases, treating the underlying issues and practicing good oral hygiene can help tighten the teeth and prevent permanent tooth loss. Visiting your dentist at the first sign of a loose tooth or loose teeth is an important step in saving your smile! Here are some of the most common causes of loose teeth in adults.

Undiagnosed Gum Disease

Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that causes puffy, inflamed gums that may bleed when you brush or floss. Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that develops below the gum line when plaque hardens into tartar. In addition to inflamed or bleeding gums, periodontitis can also cause loose teeth. This is because the hardened tartar releases toxins that can break down the gum tissues and bone if the condition goes undiagnosed or untreated.

Changes in Bone Structure Due to Disease

Diabetes, hypertension, Crohn's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are medical conditions that can increase your risk of developing periodontitis. Once periodontitis sets in, it can lead to bone loss in the jaw and changes in the jaw bone structure if left untreated.

Diabetes causes bone loss throughout the body, including the jaw, while immune disorders such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis can lower your natural immunity and cause inflammation of the gums and oral tissues. People with hypertension or high blood pressure lose higher-than-normal amounts of calcium through their urine, which can lead to weakened bones and bone loss in the jaw.

Changes Due to Pregnancy

If you've ever heard the old wives' tale "gain a child, lose a tooth," it actually holds some truth! Studies show the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur in pregnancy can cause the gums to overreact to dental plaque and cause inflammation and bleeding.

The good news? Pregnancy gingivitis is usually temporary. With proper treatment, symptoms tend to clear up after the baby is born and the hormones reset. The not-so-good news? If left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can increase your risk for periodontitis and loss of teeth. If you're pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant, it's important to talk to your dentist about your unique dental needs during this time.


Facial injuries caused by falls, accidents, and sudden impacts can cause tooth luxation, a condition in which the tooth becomes loose or angled in the socket. In addition to a loose tooth, symptoms of tooth luxation can include bleeding gums, tender gums, sensitive teeth, and localized tooth pain. The injured person might also hear a high-pitched sound when they tap on the tooth. If your tooth becomes loose due to an injury, it's important to schedule an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible.


Sometimes referred to as a "silent" disease because it doesn't usually cause symptoms until you break a bone, osteoporosis is a condition that causes decreased bone mass. Osteoporosis can develop at any age, but it's most common in older men and postmenopausal women. People with osteoporosis develop brittle bones that can easily fracture. When the jaw bones are weakened by osteoporosis, it can result in loose teeth and possible tooth loss.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a condition that causes people to grind their teeth during sleep or unconsciously when they're awake. The specific cause of teeth grinding and clenching isn't fully understood, but medical professionals believe that it may be linked to issues such as excessive stress, anxiety, and snoring. Smoking and caffeine intake may also trigger bruxism episodes. Over time, the constant pressure on the teeth and ligaments in the mouth can contribute to loose teeth, especially for people with existing dental conditions such as tooth decay or gum disease.


Medications don't directly cause loose teeth, but taking certain medicines may increase your risk for dental disease. When dental diseases go untreated, loose teeth and permanent tooth loss can occur. Antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and diuretics contain ingredients that can cause fluid loss and dry mouth symptoms. A dry mouth creates the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria to multiply, and bacteria contribute to gum disease and tooth decay.

Treatment Options for an Adult Loose Tooth

Treatment options for adult loose teeth include splinting, bite adjustment procedures, and deep cleaning and scaling.

Splinting is a procedure that's most often used on loose teeth caused by injuries. During a splinting procedure, the dentist bonds the loose tooth to its neighboring teeth with a metal splint. This helps stabilize the loose tooth as the surrounding tissues and ligaments heal. 
Bite adjustment procedures are recommended for patients with loose teeth caused by teeth grinding and bruxism. When a dentist performs a bite adjustment procedure, they use a specialized tool to reshape the biting surface of the tooth. This greatly reduces the pressure caused by grinding and clenching and allows the loose tooth and ligaments to heal.

For patients with loose teeth due to periodontitis, deep cleaning, and root scaling procedures help remove tartar from below the gum line. The dentist uses a scaling tool to break up hardened tartar and calculus on the teeth and the tooth roots. Once the tartar is removed, the gums are allowed to heal and tighten, which can help reverse loose teeth.

Loose Tooth Prevention for Adults

While a loose tooth caused by an injury or accident can't always be prevented, taking proactive steps with your dental health may help prevent loose teeth due to dental disease. Here are some tips on how to prevent loose permanent teeth:

If you have symptoms of a loose tooth, Risas Dental can help. Our comprehensive dental services are affordable, and we offer payment plans and financing for all budget types, with no credit check required. We understand a loose tooth can be a little scary, even for adults, but there's no need to worry. At Risas Dental, we "speak patient" — our teammates will guide you through every step of your procedure and keep you informed at all times. Schedule an appointment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for your teeth to feel slightly loose?

While it's normal for children to have loose teeth, slightly loose permanent teeth usually indicate an underlying dental condition or injury. Loose teeth in adults should always be examined and treated by a professional dentist to prevent complications.

Can loose teeth be temporary?

Hormonal changes that occur in pregnancy and during menstruation can sometimes cause temporary loose teeth. This is because the fluctuating hormones can loosen the ligaments that surround the teeth, and the gums retighten once the hormones balance out. Facial injuries, teeth grinding and gum infections can also cause temporary loose teeth.

Can saltwater tighten loose teeth?

Rinsing with saltwater can sometimes help soothe swollen gums and flush bacteria out of the mouth, but it can't tighten loose teeth that are caused by dental disease or injuries. If you have symptoms of a loose tooth, it's always best to contact your dentist immediately to ensure you receive the correct treatment.

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