A few weeks ago, we took a look at some of the most common mistakes people make when brushing their teeth, for example: brushing too hard or not changing out your toothbrush. Since mistakes can also be made while flossing, we thought that it would also be important to list some of the most common flossing mistakes, as well as how to correct them:
One of the most common mistakes people make in regards to flossing is that they don’t floss daily. Although the American Dental Association recommends flossing once a day, a recent study found that only about one-third of Americans actually floss daily, while the other two-thirds either floss occasionally or not at all. When you consider the fact that brushing your teeth only cleans 60% of the entire tooth surface, flossing becomes necessary to clean the remaining areas that your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing daily ensures that your teeth are being properly cleaned and decreases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Using the Wrong Floss
Another mistake that people sometimes make is that they use the wrong type of dental floss for their smile. Many people are unaware of the fact that there are a variety of dental floss types that are designed for different needs. For example, certain types of floss are ideal for teeth that are very close together, while others are ideal for teeth with gaps between them. There is also floss designed for flossing around dental restorations, as well as flossing tools to make handling floss easier. Doing some research on what type of floss would work best for you can help maximize your flossing routine while minimizing struggles.
Missing Certain Places
Just as dentists notice that their patients tend to miss certain places while brushing their teeth, they also notice places people miss while flossing. In fact, the most common place that people forget to floss is behind their last molars. Many people skip this area because it is not in-between teeth, however it is important to clean the back of your molars. While flossing, you should also be sure that you are flossing between every tooth, as well as along the sides of each tooth.
Flossing Too Much or Too Hard
In some cases, dentists notice their patients being too enthusiastic about flossing. By this, we mean that some people either floss too much or too hard. The reason why the American Dental Association recommends flossing daily is because flossing multiple times a day causes gum irritation, which can actually increase the risk of gum disease. Flossing too hard or continually hitting your gums with floss can also cause gum irritation. To avoid irritating your gums while flossing, it is recommended to start at the base of the tooth and work away from the gums. You also only need to lightly slide the floss over your teeth since plaque is soft and can be easily removed.
Flossing at the Wrong Time
Since it is only recommended to floss once a day, the time of day you choose to floss matters. Ideally, the best time to floss is at night before bedtime, just before you brush your teeth. This is because flossing removes plaque buildup from between your teeth and along the gum line so that the fluoride in toothpaste is able to reach these areas. Brushing and flossing before bed is also important because it minimizes the damage done by bacteria while you sleep, since saliva production decreases and makes your mouth vulnerable to decay. With that being said, flossing at the wrong time is better than not flossing at all. However, flossing at the ideal time can help you maximize your flossing benefits.
Dr. Sarmad Channo, a Rochester, MI dentist, received his doctorate degree from New York University Dental School. Since then, he has continued studying to broaden his expertise and has also graduated from Progressive Orthodontic Seminars with the highest of honors. Dr. Channo has also served as an instructor for both the McGann Postgraduate School of Dentistry and Progressive Orthodontic Seminars.