Can you floss too much and will that result in damaging your teeth and hurting the gums? Find out what is good practice and the flossing options available to you.
Many people rarely practice flossing as part of their daily oral hygiene. Even the small percentage that do floss lack the technique required for efficient flossing.
This lack of technique can lead to poor dental health.
Flossing removes 40% of the plaque whilst brushing removes 60% of the plaque. Both are extremely important as they prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
In this article, we will get to know about flossing, how it is done, the risks, and the benefits of flossing.
What Is Dental Flossing?
Dental floss is a cord of thin filaments. It is used in areas of the mouth where a toothbrush cannot reach to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth.
Tooth flossing is specifically recommended for individuals who have tight interdental spacing. Interdental spacing is the area between two adjoining teeth.
The smaller the space the higher the risk of entrapment of food particles. These are not easily removed by tooth brushing.
Flossing removes plaque, helping to prevent a buildup that can lead to tartar. The use of dental flossing combined with brushing your teeth helps to keep your teeth clean and 100% plaque-free.
How To Floss Properly
Failure to properly floss can result in:
- damaging the gums
Below is a seven-step technique that ensures that the flossing is done properly to yield good results.
- Break off approximately 18 inches of floss winding most of it around one of your middle fingers.
- The remaining floss should be wound around the same finger on the opposite hand. You will wind the used floss around this finger.
- Be sure to hold the floss firmly between thumbs and forefingers.
- Move the floss between the individual teeth with a gentle rubbing motion.
- As the floss reaches the gum line, press against one of the teeth creating a C shape. Slide it gently into the space between the tooth and the gum.
- Holding the floss tightly against a tooth, move the floss up and down between the teeth.
- Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth and don’t forget the backside of your last tooth.
Signs That You Are Flossing Too Much
Flossing is extremely beneficial but if overdone can be a great threat to your oral health.
Dentists recommend that flossing should be done once a day. The reason being that a bacterial colony that creates plaque takes around 24 hours to form.
By flossing more than once per day, serious damage can be created on the gum tissue.
By flossing too vigorously or using too heavy a pressure on the gums you can cause them to bleed. Over time, too much flossing can damage the gum line.
Damaging the gum line exposes more of the teeth’ roots, which in turn causes decay and cavities.
Many avid flossers utilize a saw-like motion to get their teeth clean. This action may eventually wear through the enamel of the tooth.
In extreme cases, this can result in periodontal bone loss. Bone loss can create loose teeth which may eventually fall out.
When Should I Floss?
First of all, you should floss once a day unless you have something annoying stuck between your teeth. This usually happens after a meal.
On this occasion reaching for the floss is essential.
In general flossing more than once in 24 hours has no real benefits. Flossing more than once per day only damages your gum tissue.
Should I Brush First Before Flossing?
Dentists recommend that one should first floss before brushing. This is totally opposite to how most people assume the order is.
Flossing helps to lift and release food and plaque that is stuck between your teeth. Brushing afterward can then efficiently remove all loosened food and plaque particles.
Brushing first with a good toothbrush and flossing afterward can result in food and plaque remaining in your mouth until the next time you brush.
In both cases, rinsing your mouth with either water or mouthwash as a final process is beneficial.
8 Common Mistakes When Flossing
If flossing is not done properly it will damage gums and expose the tooth to bacteria and cavities.
Most people have challenges when it comes to flossing. Below are 8 common mistakes that one needs to avoid:
- not flossing enough
- missing places
- flossing too fast
- irritating the gums
- not flossing at the right time
- not using the right type of floss
- not using floss on dental devices
- using the same section of floss for all your teeth
Not Flossing Enough
Many people do not floss at all. This means that only 60% of the plaque is removed and 40% of plaque is left on the teeth.
This leaves teeth vulnerable to cavities, tooth decay, and gum diseases.
People that do floss often make the mistake of missing certain places.
Key places that need to be covered when flossing include:
- the far side of the last molar
- along the sides of the last molars
- along the sides of the teeth
- below the gum line
Flossing Too Fast
Take your time when flossing.
Make sure you reach between every tooth.
Flossing too fast will probably cause you to make mistakes and hurt your gums as well as miss essential areas.
Irritating the Gums
Irritation of gums is caused by over flossing.
It is also caused by the dental floss being forcefully rubbed or accidentally snapped against the gum tissue.
Many people avoid flossing as they complain it irritates their gums.
To avoid gum irritation when flossing gently move the floss around each tooth. Do not touch the gums.
Another technique that can be applied is moving the floss in the opposite direction of the gum. This will help decrease the risk of hitting the gums while you floss.
Not Flossing at the Right Time
The best time to floss is just before you go to bed at night time.
Brushing and flossing before bed are important to prevent your teeth from damage by bacteria overnight.
The production of saliva decreases while you sleep. This means your mouth and teeth lack protection during these hours.
Not Using the Right Type of Floss
An error that most people often make is not using the right floss.
There are different types of dental floss. Making sure you use the correct type of floss for your teeth will make your flossing activities more effective.
It is therefore important that you consult your dentist on the type of floss that you must use.
Not Using Floss On Dental Devices
Using floss to clean your braces must definitely be part of your daily flossing routine.
Braces are notorious for harboring food and debris between the mechanisms.
Not cleaning braces properly can lead to bad breath and deterioration of your teeth in general.
Do Not Use The Same Section of Floss Between All of Your Teeth
You should not keep using the same section of dental floss to do your whole mouth.
When you have completed between one set of teeth, wind the dental floss on over your finger, releasing floss on the opposite finger.
Holding the floss firmly, move onto the next space between teeth with a fresh piece of floss.
This will ensure efficient cleaning.
Alternatives To String Flossing
Flossing is a very uncomfortable process for many people. However, there are a variety of methods of flossing one can use as alternatives to improve oral health.
These include :
They are tiny brushes designed to clean between teeth and they are much easier to use, especially for people with braces.
A water flosser uses a stable stream of water to clean between your teeth. It only needs one to know how to use it but it is the more expensive option.
Water flossing is good for people with gum problems and those who wear braces.
These are made of plastic and wood, they remove plaque but they need you to first soften the plaque first for them to be effective.
It is a mishmash of interdental brushes and dental picks, they made of plastic and are disposable after use. They help minimize gum damage.
Pre Threaded Floss
They help one to easily reach any part of the mouth when flossing.
Can You Floss Too Much? – Conclusion
In conclusion, flossing is an important oral hygiene habit that should be done daily.
- Flossing dislodges any food particles stuck between your teeth.
- Reduces the quantity of plaque build-up and bacteria present in your mouth.
- Prevents cavities and gum disease caused by plaque.
Flossing should be done once a day and one should correctly use the floss.
Improper use of the floss can result in damaging your gums and teeth.