Girl holding out a floss piece, smiling.

Inflammation and Flossing: What You Need to Know

Oral health is just as important as physical health. Our gums tell us when our oral health is not at optimal fitness. Inflammation in your gums is one of these signs. Inflammation may also come with sensitive or tender gums that bleed when eating, brushing, or flossing. Your dentist will notice it before you do. Having inflamed gums is not a reason, however, to skip flossing. Contrary to that belief, flossing can help reduce inflammation over time along with other proper oral health habits cleaning and in between maintenance.

What is Inflammation of the Gums?

Inflammation is when your gums become swollen or puffy and red. Sometimes bleeding and tenderness or sensitivity occur with inflammation. Your gums can become inflamed in one spot or across your entire mouth. Other signs of inflammation include bad breath and tender or sensitive gums. As our periodontist in Vero Beach, FL will tell you, inflammation isn’t something you should ignore. It is a sign of a more serious problem.

What Causes Inflammation of the Gums?

There are many reasons inflammation occurs. It could be the result of a cavity, an infection, damage to the tooth or root, or as is most often gum disease. The CDC estimates that over half of all adults have periodontal disease, the leading cause of inflammation, in their gums. Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis and one of the first signs of this condition is inflammation.

Plaque builds up on your teeth and in between your teeth where flossing is most effective. Plaque is an invisible bacteria that forms from sugary and starchy foods. Without proper dental care and regular cleanings, plaque hardens under your gums causing your gingiva, where your gums meet your teeth, to become inflamed. This is where the word gingivitis comes from. Gingivitis leads to periodontal disease and possibly even tooth loss, if left untreated.

How Does Flossing Help Inflammation?

Inflammation occurs as part of an immune response to irritants in your gums. Flossing helps to remove these irritants, food, and bacteria, from between your teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing breaks up and loosens the food and bacteria, and a crucial step in part of your daily and proper oral health routine.

While flossing may feel like that one thing that takes too long before bed, it is an important step in removing bacteria from your mouth, especially before bed. In fact, it’s said that flossing clears up about 30% of bacteria in your mouth if you do it before bed.

At first, if your gums are swollen, it may feel like flossing is making it worse or causing more bleeding than usual. Stimulating swollen gums with floss will indeed cause them to bleed. However, over time they will bleed less and begin to heal. Flossing helps prevent gingivitis and periodontitis disease.

Why Else is Flossing Important

A healthy mouth and gums lead to a healthy body. You take time to work out, take showers, and eat, right? Taking care of your mouth should be just as important as the rest. Flossing is an important part of this healthy routine. Research has shown us that periodontitis increases the risk of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, stroke, and heart disease. Proper flossing, along with brushing and rinsing, reduces these risks and others that can occur as a result.

Bacteria left to rot in your mouth between your teeth causes bad breath. Flossing away bacteria and food stuck in the crevices will keep your breath fresh, making you feel more confident in your daily life.

When Should You Floss?

You should floss after every time you eat, but that isn’t always a viable or available option. Most of us don’t carry floss around in our pockets or pocketbooks (although, we highly recommend it). Therefore, you might find it difficult to floss after every meal, but carrying one on hand can help make it easier to remember, and it can be done in almost any bathroom or washroom after you eat.

If your gums are sore and inflamed contact, your a periodontist as soon as possible. While visiting with your Vero Beach dental office for inflammation, ask them if a visit to Vero Implants and Periodontics is right for you. Dr. Brown specializes in periodontal services and maintenance, and also doesn’t require a referral. Contact us for a personal consultation to see if our team can help take the utmost care in protecting your gums to get them back to optimal health.