Common Flossing Mistakes
Flossing is an important part of your daily dental routine. In fact, flossing helps to remove plaque from 40% of your tooth surfaces, including places like along the gum line and between the teeth. These places are easily missed by a toothbrush and can be excellent places for plaque to accumulate. When it comes to flossing, however, there are a few key mistakes that dentist’s notice their patients making. Here are some of the most common flossing mistakes:
Not Flossing Regularly
The American Dental Association advises people to floss once a day to maintain their oral health. Despite this recommendation, however, only about 30% of Americans floss every day. Some people also floss occasionally, while others may floss once in a while or not at all. A lack of consistency with flossing is one of the biggest flossing mistakes because it allows plaque to accumulate along the gum line and in between teeth in places where your toothbrush cannot reach. Ultimately, not flossing can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, even if you brush regularly.
Irritating the Gums
Another mistake some people make while flossing is irritating the gums. When you floss, you should never use the floss to apply pressure to your gums and should be careful not to accidentally snap the floss against the gums. You will also not want to floss more than once a day. All of these things can cause the gums to bleed and become irritated. Eventually, this can cause the gums to recede or pull away from the teeth, and can result in gum disease.
Obviously it goes without saying that flossing only works in the areas that you floss. Unfortunately, dentists often notice their patients forgetting a few key areas that are known to develop decay as a result. The most common place people forget to floss is the backs of the last molars and this becomes a common location for plaque and food debris. The sides of the teeth and just below the gum line are two other commonly missed locations.
Not Flossing at the Right Time
Because it is recommended to only floss once a day to remove plaque without irritating the gums, the time of day you floss matters. To get the most out of your daily flossing, you should floss just before going to bed. You should also be flossing before you brush your teeth because flossing removes excess plaque and allows the fluoride from toothpaste to reach the hard to reach places in your mouth. Both brushing and flossing before you go to bed removes excess bacteria from your mouth to protect your teeth when saliva production is reduced as you sleep. Since bacteria can do the most damage while you sleep, brushing and flossing before bed help to minimize this damage.
Using the Wrong Floss
One of the final mistakes people make when flossing is that they are using the wrong type of floss. There are multiple types of dental floss and some are better suited for certain types of smiles. Knowing what type of floss will work best for you is the best way to make your flossing routine faster, easier, and more effective.
Dr. Speer prides himself on excellence in all aspects of dentistry. He stays up to date on the latest technologies by attending various continuing education courses throughout the year. He also enjoys volunteering his time and expertise at events, such as Portland Mission of Mercy. He is a member of the Clackamas County Dental Society, Oregon Dental Association, the American Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. He is also the former President of the Oregon Chapter of Delta Sigma Delta, an international Dental Fraternity.