Flossing is an important part of your daily dental hygiene routine and it is recommended that you floss at least once a day. However, just as you can make mistakes brushing your teeth, you can also make mistakes flossing. Correcting these mistakes will help to improve your flossing routine and decrease your chances of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Here are some of the most common flossing mistakes:
Putting Pressure on the Gums
When you floss your teeth, the goal is to move the floss between your teeth to remove any plaque accumulation. With that being said, you should never use the floss to apply pressure to your gums. An easy way to make sure you’re not damaging your gums is to floss in an upward direction on your bottom teeth and floss in a downward motion when flossing your upper teeth. This minimizes the risk that you will irritate your gums and cause gum recession.
By far one of the most common mistakes people make when flossing is simply not doing it. While the reasons for not flossing can vary from forgetfulness to running out of time to who knows what else, the takeaway is that not flossing daily means that plaque is still on your teeth. Although brushing your teeth removes most of the plaque, there is still some plaque that resides along the gum line and in between the teeth that only flossing can remove. If this plaque is left in place long enough, it can eventually result in tooth decay and gum disease.
Flossing Too Much
The opposite of not flossing is flossing too much, although this problem is not nearly as common. While you may think that flossing a lot is beneficial, it can actually do more harm than good. This is primarily due to the fact that flossing multiple times a day can irritate the gums and lead to gum disease. Instead, stick to flossing once a day.
Flossing at the Wrong Time
To get the most benefits from flossing, it is recommended to floss just before bedtime. This is because saliva production goes down while you sleep, making your teeth more likely to be damaged by bacteria. However, removing any remaining bacteria by brushing and flossing decreases the amount of damage that can occur. It is also recommended that you floss before brushing your teeth so that the fluoride in the toothpaste can get in between the teeth easier.
Not Using the Best Floss for Your Teeth
There are different types of dental floss and a large part of maximizing your flossing routine has to do with finding the best type of floss for your teeth. Some types of floss work well for crowded teeth, while others work well for teeth with gaps. They even make floss that is stiffer and thicker than normal in order to floss around fixed appliances or restorations. Doing some research before buying floss can help you to determine which type will work best for you.
Just as with brushing your teeth, you want to make sure you floss around all your teeth. Any missed places allows for plaque accumulation and increases the risk of developing decay in this area. While flossing, be sure to get in between every tooth, behind the last molars, and along any dental restorations or fixed appliances.
Dr. Victor Bustos graduated from Florida International University with an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Biology and then continued on to obtain his DMD from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He strives to always stay current on the newest techniques and continuously attends dental continuing education courses and workshops to further his knowledge and hone his skills. Dr Bustos’ greatest satisfaction comes from helping patients achieve their dental goals.