Why Do My Gums Hurt After Flossing?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Flossing and brushing your teeth regularly helps maintain good dental health, and flossing shouldn’t harm your gums or teeth as long as it’s done correctly. However, if it’s done beyond the recommended timeline or aggressively, it may cause gum pain.

Poor flossing technique can result in discomfort, pain, and bleeding along your gum line. However, if you floss with the recommended frequency and your gums still hurt, you may be experiencing an underlying gum-related issue. Visit your dentist so that they can assess the problem.

Painful gums can significantly affect your quality of life. For example, eating or talking may be challenging if your mouth hurts. So, if you’re experiencing painful gums, it’s time to act. Let’s learn more about why your gums might hurt after flossing and what to do about it.    

What Causes Gums to Hurt After Flossing?

Woman flossing her teeth

Regular flossing has numerous dental hygiene benefits. Nonetheless, flossing becomes a nightmare for some people if they start experiencing gum pain and bleeding.

Here are some of the top reasons why your gums may hurt after flossing:

Improper Flossing Technique

If flossing is causing gum pain, the pain may not be triggered by the actual action of flossing but instead by the frequency. If you floss more frequently than recommended or if you floss too hard, it may result in pain.

Always try and be gentle with your gums and be mindful of the way you floss.


You may be dealing with gingivitis or gum disease if your gums get inflamed, painful, or bloody after flossing.

Poor oral hygiene habits can cause gum disease. Characterized by gum inflammation, soreness, bleeding, and teeth loss, gum disease is often caused by plaque accumulation on your gums and teeth.

Consult your dentist before the situation gets worse if you suffer from any of the symptoms of gingivitis.

Mouth Ulcers

Medically known as canker sores, mouth ulcers are small sores that form on your lips, gums, and inner cheeks. They mostly appear red and inflamed and may have a white coating.

Although non-contagious, these sores are often painful and are mainly triggered by minor mouth injuries such as accidental biting, bacterial infection, and hormonal changes.

If you spot some canker sores on your mouth and gums, they may be the reason behind your gum pain.

Fortunately, these sores often disappear with time. But if they last longer, consult your dentist for treatment.  

New to Flossing

Individuals who experience gum bleeding and pain during or after flossing are often new to flossing in general.

Flossing is essential to oral hygiene and shouldn’t be painful. However, like brushing your teeth, it requires you to follow a specific technique as directed by your dentist, especially if you have sensitive gums and teeth.

So, if you just started flossing, be patient and don’t get discouraged! Usually, the aches and pains that might result from flossing will go away after 1-7 days of consistent flossing.

It’s always wise to invest in a high-quality dental floss tape (on Amazon). That said, if the pain and bleeding persist, there is a need for immediate medical attention because the discomfort may be caused by other serious reasons.

Sensitive Gums and Teeth

Teeth and gum sensitivity should be among the primary suspects when considering why gums hurt when flossing. Also known as dentin hypersensitivity, gum pain after flossing is one of the main symptoms.

You may experience gum and teeth sensitivity because you’re flossing or brushing too hard or consuming very hot and cold drinks and foods.

Pain and discomfort while flossing may also result from damaged or eroded tooth enamel. Acid refluxes, drinking soft and fruit drinks containing citric acids, and feeding on high sugar and starch diets, can erode the teeth and cause sensitivity or pain.

An eroded enamel means that your gum is receding, leaving your teeth’s nerve endings and roots exposed to outside conditions. This may result in constant toothaches, pain, and constant bleeding gums or, worst cases, teeth loss.

What Are the Signs of Gums Disease?

Woman touching cheek suffering from toothache cavities

The worst-case scenario of your gums hurting during or after flossing is the onset of gum disease.

Also known as gingivitis or periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by bacteria growth in your mouth due to poor oral hygiene and other risk factors.

Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Red and inflamed gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Foul breath
  • Painful chewing
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth

Although most people flossing with this condition experience pain while removing plaque and tartar from their teeth, there is still hope for recovery.

Here are some valuable tips for maintaining your oral health:

  • Visit your dentist for a routine check-up and professional cleaning.
  • Floss regularly and gently to remove the plaque between your teeth.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a recommended fluoride toothpaste (on Amazon)

Following these tips may help prevent periodontitis, which, in severe cases, may result in teeth loss.

Remember that oral health is vital for everyone. So, despite experiencing gum pain and toothache, don’t stop flossing your teeth.

Be gentle in flossing movements, and consult your dentist if the gum pain persists. They’ll be able to identify the issue and advise you on how best to proceed.

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