Flossing your teeth is an essential part of a good oral hygiene regimen, and the process helps keep your teeth and gums in healthy condition. Flossing works by cleaning and removing food caught between your teeth, thereby reducing oral bacteria and plaque.
However, many people don’t floss regularly, and some admit they don’t do it at all. Just burying your head in the sand and not flossing is a terrible idea because it can lead to a stubborn plaque buildup on your teeth. Not taking action in this manner can potentially lead to cavities and gum diseases such as gingivitis.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), forty-four percent of patients surveyed admitted they have exaggerated to their dentist about how often they floss. The patients also said in the survey that one of the main reasons they don’t floss is that they find doing it too painful. So, why are patients finding it painful? The following article will answer that question and explore ways to do it without hurting yourself.
Why Does Flossing Hurt?
If you are flossing your teeth correctly, it should never hurt. Encountering pain when you floss is a sign that you need to change your flossing technique. It’s critical that you floss correctly, too, and not doing it the right way can potentially damage your teeth and the underlying gum tissue.
Also, people are often hesitant to floss around permanent crowns because it feels a little different from flossing your natural teeth; they are afraid it will hurt. Moreover, this artificial tooth is made of sturdy material and strongly affixed with dental cement. That means you can floss around it the same way you floss around your natural teeth.
How Often and When to Floss
It is best to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. A study conducted in 2018 suggests that it is better to floss first and brush afterward. The researchers in the study said that this sequence works well because flossing first loosened the debris and bacteria from between the teeth, and brushing later cleaned the particles away. As far as the best time to floss goes, most people find it convenient to floss at bedtime. You can do it any time of the day that you want, though.
How to Floss Your Front Teeth
String floss comes in two forms: Nylon (or multifilament) floss and PTFE (monofilament) floss. The following guide discusses the proper way to floss your front teeth with string floss:
- Begin by pulling out about 18 inches of dental floss. Wind most of it around each of your middle fingers, leaving about an inch or two of string to work with.
- While holding the string tautly between your index fingers and thumbs, gently slide the floss in an up-and-down motion between your front teeth.
- As you are doing it, gently curve the dental floss around the base of each front tooth.
- To remove the dental floss when finished with the section, use the same back-and-forth motion to move the dental floss up and away from your front teeth.
- As you move from tooth to tooth, use clean sections of floss.
- You don’t want to force the floss or make it “snap.” Doing so may cut or bruise your delicate gum tissue.
- Repeat the process until you have cleaned around each front tooth.
How to Floss Your Back Teeth
Now that you are finished learning how to floss your front teeth, it’s time to move on to flossing your back teeth. Patients sometimes find flossing the back teeth challenging, but you floss your back teeth the same way as you do the front. One tip that we can give you to make things easier is to use a slightly longer piece of dental floss when flossing the back. You can also unwind the floss from your fingers a little so that you can use an even longer piece for better maneuverability.
Consider using a floss pick if you are having difficulty flossing your back teeth due to having a strong gag reflex or limited manual dexterity. Also, electric flossers are very ergonomic, and they may be a viable alternative to using conventional floss for some.
After you’ve finished flossing, rinse your mouth an antibacterial mouthwash or water.Your gums might bleed a bit during flossing, and you might find your mouth to be a bit uncomfortable for a few days if you haven’t been doing it regularly. Remember, don’t do it too hard, and likewise, don’t saw away at your gums like you are trying to cut a miniature log in your mouth. Even if it feels like you aren’t flossing correctly, it’s better to take a gentle approach than it is to injure your gums.
Regular Flossing vs. Water Flossing
Water flossers, also known as dental water jets or oral irrigators, work by using a pressurized and continual stream of pulsating water to clean food debris, bacteria and plaque from between teeth and under the gum line. The result you get after water flossing is much like what you get after manually flossing by string; however, a water flosser may not remove as much plaque from the surfaces of your teeth.
You may prefer to use a water flosser if you wear braces, have crowns, or have dental implants. Oral irrigators may also be easier to use than conventional floss for people with limited dexterity, such as in the case of a patient with arthritis. Keep in mind that flossing the traditional way is more effective than cleaning your teeth and gums with dental water jets.
It seems easy to do in concept, but for some of us, the flossing task can seem overly complicated. If you have too much difficulty flossing, you may even get intimidated and be tempted not to do it regularly; or you may want to give up on it entirely.
Before getting discouraged, call and make an appointment with us at Star Dental. We can answer your flossing questions and even show you how to floss correctly during your appointment. Our professional team makes your dental health and bright smile our top priority.
My name is Jeremy Rourke. I’m part of a family of dentists with my father, brother, cousin and nephew also being dentists. I won a University of Sydney Dental Alumni prize for being the top student in my year and graduated with Honours in 1971. I have been a Registered dentist for over 40 years. In that time I have created a few “firsts” in my efforts to stay ahead.