Our Calgary Dentist Answers: Is It Normal For My Gums to Bleed After Brushing or Flossing?

Our Calgary Dentist Answers: Is It Normal For My Gums to Bleed After Brushing or Flossing?

By Advance Your Health Dental | Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S. | Calgary Dentist

Have you ever noticed that your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth?  If you have noticed any bleeding after brushing or flossing your teeth, our Calgary dentist advises that, even if there is just a small amount of blood, you should not ignore the bleeding as even a small amount of bleeding could indicate that there is an issue with either the health of your mouth and/or gums or with the way you are brushing or flossing your teeth. 

Although it can be easy to shrug off a little blood in the sink after you rinse your mouth, bleeding after brushing or flossing your teeth is not normal, no matter how insignficant the amount of blood may be, and should never be ignored.


According to Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, our Calgary dentist, there are several reasons why your gums bleed when brushing or flossing your teeth.  Some causes are minor and are easily remedied, while others may take time to resolve and may even require intervention by your Calgary dentist or dental hygienist.  While bleeding gums are not a dental emergency, they should not be ignored.  If you have any doubt as to the reason why your gums are bleeding, you should always consult your dentist or dental hygienist to obtain some professional recommendations and advice and to ensure that there are no significant issues of concern.  Here are some causes of bleeding gums when you brush or floss your teeth.

Your Toothbrush Bristles

When you come for a dental hygiene cleaning or a dentist appointment at our Calgary dentist office and you advise that you have noticed that your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, one of the first things our dentist or dental hygienist will ask you is what type of bristles you are using to brush your teeth.  Are they soft or hard?  Sometimes, your gums may be bleeding simply because the bristles on your toothbrush are too hard.  Contrary to some patient’s beliefs, a hard or even medium bristled toothbrush does not do a better or more thorough job of cleaning your teeth.  In fact, a hard or medium bristled brush can actually damage the delicate tissue (your gums) surrounding your teeth and cause your gums to bleed.  For this reason, our Calgary dentist always recommends that a soft bristled toothbrush be used.

A New Oral Care Routine

Although flossing your teeth at least once per day is recommended by our Calgary dentist, you may notice a small amount of blood after flossing your teeth if you have not been flossing for some time and you have just introduced flossing into your oral care routine.  Typically, if you do notice a small amount of blood after flossing, if you floss daily, provided you have no other gum concerns, the bleeding should subside within about a week.

Gum Disease

If your gums are still bleeding after switching to a soft bristled brush and sticking to a daily oral care regime recommended by our Calgary dentist, it may be that you have gingivitis, which is the earliest and mildest stage of periodontal disease.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of your gums, usually caused by a lack of proper and consistent oral hygiene habits, including brushing and flossing.  Gingivitis causes your gums to be sensitive and irritated, which can also lead to bleeding.  Fortunately, the good news is that gingivitis is treatable and can often be reversed with good oral habits at home and regular visits to your dentist for teeth cleanings.

Pregnancy Gingivitis

During pregnancy, some women may experience additional inflammation in their gums which is sometimes referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis”, where the gums become red, tender and inflamed.  To help deal with gingivitis that develops during pregnancy, extra care should be taken with your oral health care routine.  Although it is recommended that any major dental work be postponed until after delivery if at all possible, pregnant people should continue to visit their dentist to ensure that their oral health is maintained and there are no additional issues causing bleeding gums and/or gingivitis.


Some medications may cause your gums to bleed more easily, including some over-the-counter medications as well as prescription drugs.  Notably, some over the counter anti-inflammatories (pain-killers) can cause the blood to thin and can increased bleeding, even when brushing or flossing your teeth.  If you notice that your gums are bleeding after starting to take blood thinners or other prescription or over-the-counter medication, speak with your physician or pharmacist who may be able to alter or make recommendations regarding your prescription which may alleviate this side-effect.


The most important action you can take to ensure the health of your gums is to take care of them!  Not surprisingly, the biggest culprit for bleeding gums is a buildup of plaque along the gumline.  According to the American Dental Association, when there is a buildup of plaque, this plaque will harden into a substance known as tartar.  Tartar is a calcified substance which adheres to your gums and causes them to be inflamed and irritated.  Ultimately, this inflammation can cause your gums to bleed and, in severe cases, can progress and lead to periodontal disease.   

To avoid the buildup of plaque and tartar, the best thing you can do is to maintain a healthy and regular oral care routine, which means brushing your teeth at least twice per day (after every meal is best!), flossing daily, eating healthy and of course, seeing your Calgary dentist regularly at six month intervals.  In addition to maintaining healthy oral habits and a healthy diet, you should also be aware that other factors can contribute to gum disease including genetics and stress.  Be aware of these additional contributing factors can help you to be extra vigilant in maintaining good oral habits and addressing your stress levels.

Quit Smoking

Although most people are aware of the dangers of using tobacco products as it relates to cancer and heart disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, the use of tobacco products, particularly cigarettes, is also a significant contributor to the development of gum disease.  Specifically, smoking and the use of tobacco products may affect the normal function of healthy gum tissue and also may affect your gums’ ability to fight infection.  If you are a smoker and have had difficulty quitting, ask your physician for guidance and recommendations as quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your oral and overall health.

Don’t Share Your Toothbrush!

Besides the obvious reason for not sharing your toothbrush (um, yuck), did you know that the bacteria on your toothbrush that is related to gingivitis can be contagious?  This bacteria can be transferred between people when they share toothbrushes and even glassware and silverware.

 If you have noticed that your gums bleed, even a small amount, when you brush or floss your teeth, this symptom should not be ignored.  Make an appointment with our Calgary dentist for a dental examination and assessment to ensure that there are no concerns regarding your gums and overall oral health and, if you need any dental treatment, such treatment can be started as soon as possible to avoid any larger, more significant issues.  If you have any concerns regarding bleeding gums or any other concerns relating to your oral health, call our Calgary dentist office in the heart of beautiful Kensington (Hillhurst/Sunnyside) in Calgary, Alberta, at 403.283.4252.  LET’S MAKE YOUR SMILE LAST A LIFETIME!

Please be advised that this blog post is for informational purposes only.  It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis.  Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine.  Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more informtion about your specific dental health requirements.

Copyright: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental.  Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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