Flossing is essential for maintaining good oral health because it removes plaque and food debris from the tight spaces between your teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. But there is a catch — flossing is only effective if you do it correctly. Let’s talk about some of the most common flossing mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Flossing at the Wrong Time
Saliva production slows down at night, which means that you have less liquid in your mouth to rinse away bacteria while you are asleep. Therefore, you should always go to bed with teeth that are as clean as possible. If you currently floss in the morning or even in the middle of the day, you might find it beneficial to include flossing in your nighttime routine instead.
Flossing After You Brush
Flossing before you brush is more advantageous than flossing afterward because the floss gets rid of food particles that might be stuck between your teeth. Once those food particles are gone, the fluoride from your toothpaste will have greater contact with your teeth and may provide you with improved protection against cavities.
Being Too Rough
For some people, flossing causes bleeding if they are not in the habit of regularly doing it. For others, flossing always seems to be painful. If the latter is true in your case, the problem might be that you are being too rough. You should never “snap” the floss between your teeth, causing it to hit your gums hard. Instead, gently insert the floss. If it is difficult to get the floss into your interdental spaces, you might need to buy a type of floss that is thinner.
Not Using Enough Floss
Did you know that it takes about 18 inches of floss to adequately clean your teeth? Using a shorter string could make it difficult for you to clean the spaces between your back teeth. You should have enough floss to wrap around one of your middle fingers several times. As you move from tooth to tooth, start winding the floss around your other middle finger so you are always using a clean section.
Not Being Thorough
Some people simply insert the floss between their teeth and then pull it out. However, that can leave a lot of plaque behind. Move the floss along the sides of both teeth that surround a space. You should also glide the floss 2 – 3 millimeters beneath the gumline; not doing so may allow harmful bacteria to attack your gums and increase your risk of periodontal disease.
How are your flossing habits? If you have questions about how to floss properly, your dentist or dental hygienist would be happy to coach you at your next cleaning and checkup!
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Erick Anderson is a general and preventive dentist who began his career in 1994, and he has been serving the Colorado Springs community since 2002. He enjoys helping patients improve their oral health by coaching them on at-home oral hygiene. If you have questions about flossing or anything else that relates to your dental well-being, he would be happy to talk with you. Contact us at 719-593-0988.