Flossing is often overlooked as part our oral hygiene regimen. Although it is often overlooked, it is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Brushing alone cannot remove food debris and bacteria in and around our teeth. Flossing is able to reach areas in between teeth and in the back areas of the mouth. Flossing really is a simple act, but many often overlook it and ignore the habit of flossing. For those of us who do floss, improper technique can also cause problems.
Common Flossing Mistakes
1. Skipping The Back Teeth – When we floss it is essential to not only concentrate on the front teeth. It is equally important to get in the back of the mouth, between and around molars, and keep those areas clean. This removes food and plaque bacteria in areas from which a toothbrush can not reach. You need to keep your teeth as clean as possible to avoid the onset of periodontal disease and tooth decay.
2. Not Rotating The Floss At Each Area – The purpose of flossing is to remove bacteria, food debris, and bacteria from between the teeth. If you do not rotate the floss at each tooth you are just replacing the removed bacteria and debris back into the mouth.
3. Flossing Too Aggressively – Some of our teeth have tighter spaces than others and this could cause a more aggressive approach to flossing. It is better to gently work the floss up and down between your teeth, following the natural curve of the tooth, so as not to snap the floss down and cut your gums. You should floss using a mirror to watch what you are doing, it is easier to see if you are missing anything. You should NEVER , “shoeshine” your teeth. Side to side aggressive motion, over time, causes notches into the roots of the teeth.
4. Not Flossing Because Your Gums Bleed – At times our gums can bleed if we are not maintaining proper oral hygiene. This is the earliest sign of periodontal disease, called “Gingivitis”. This stage of periodontal disease can be reversed. If you see some blood, continue gentle flossing, and rinsing with warm salt water. As the bacteria and irritants are removed the inflammation will subside and so will the bleeding. It might take 1-2 weeks for that to happen.
5. Keep Track Of Where You Are Flossing – It can be very easy to miss a tooth or two while flossing. Create a good routine to keep on track and not get distracted.
6. Not Flossing At All! – This is the biggest mistake! Many have been lucky enough not to have decay or serious problems, and have never flossed. This may have “worked” for you in your youth, but it will put you at risk for periodontal disease as you get older. People who have never had a cavity, and do not have good oral hygiene habits are at much higher risk for gum disease. Those pearly whites may stay beautiful until they day they all start to fall out!
Don’t wait for problems to begin. Floss regularly and correctly, and you are setting yourself up for good success in maintaining your oral health. Remember, to floss gently, properly, and often. As many dentists say,” You don’t have to floss all of your teeth, just the ones you want to keep!”.