One of the first questions you get asked when you go in for a dental cleaning is, “How often do you floss?” The majority of people know that while they should floss daily, they don’t. This is either because they find it inconvenient, don’t understand the importance of flossing, or are doing it incorrectly, and ergo hurting their teeth and their gums instead of helping them. Here’s what you need to know about flossing, how to do it correctly, and how incorrect flossing can result in issues such as loosening teeth.
Why You Need To Floss
Dentists always ask about your flossing habits because flossing is an essential part of maintaining good oral health. The American Dental Association recommends that you floss twice daily and that you floss once a day in addition to your bi-yearly dental exams in order to keep your mouth healthy.
Flossing is important because while brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the plaque, it doesn’t get in between your teeth, which leaves the potential for cavities to grow in the spaces between your teeth. It also reduces your risk of gum disease and the potential for bad breath through removing plaque and food particles that can eat away at your tooth enamel and gum tissue.
Flossing cleans where your toothbrush can’t reach. While brushing your teeth helps them stay clean and healthy, flossing in addition to brushing is what really keeps your mouth in good condition. Generally, it does not matter if you brush in the morning or in the evening, so long as you do it.
Proper Flossing Technique
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Flossing is no exception. Flossing isn’t meant to be painful, so if it hurts when you floss, this is probably a sign that you are flossing incorrectly. In some cases though, if you have seen a dentist after not flossing and it hurts to floss after, this can be because your gums simply need to adjust to the flossing, and this pain goes away within a week or two of regular flossing, as your gums get stronger.
To floss correctly, you should stick to dental floss, dental picks, or water flossers to get the job done. You don’t want to use a saw-like motion to get the floss between your teeth, but rather you can ease the floss between your teeth gently, utilizing some pressure, but not an excessive amount. Flossing shouldn’t feel like an arm workout! If it does, this is a sign that you are probably flossing too aggressively. You also don’t want to force the floss, or snap it between your teeth.
If you are uncertain about whether or not you are flossing correctly, ask your dentist for a demonstration. They will be able to show you the proper way and correct any bad habits you may have picked up.
The Impacts Of Flossing Incorrectly
Generally, if your gums are bleeding, this is actually a sign that you aren’t flossing enough, as bleeding gums are an indicator of gum disease. Regular flossing can make the bleeding go away. However, if you’re a regular flosser and your gums bleed and the bleeding doesn’t let up, this is a sign that you might be flossing incorrectly.
If you’re forcing your floss against your teeth and your gums and sawing it harshly, this can actually cut your gums, causing little cuts. Over time, harsh flossing can cause your gums to recede and hurt your tooth enamel, which is what can lead to that fear of flossing loosening your teeth.
If you’re pulling your floss down hard on your gums and yanking it under the gumline, this can actually increase your risk of gum disease, through creating spaces for bacteria to fester in, which can result in decay, infection, and disease.
If your gums are red and irritated, painful, and/or receding, these are all indicators that you might be flossing incorrectly. Leaving the problem unaddressed can lead to a whole host of problems such as loosening teeth. Luckily, this is easy to fix through simply asking your dentist about proper flossing techniques. If you find out you have been flossing incorrectly, it’s simple to just switch to the proper method, so your teeth can stay healthy and strong!
Do You Have Questions About Flossing?
North View Dental knows how important flossing is for your oral health. We also understand that sometimes, not everyone knows the right way to do things. We are happy to demonstrate the proper flossing technique to you, as well as answer any questions you may have. To learn more about our services, please contact us at North View Dental today!