For good oral health and a bright, confident smile, you need to brush your teeth and floss daily. Unfortunately, most people only focus on brushing twice a day and overlook flossing. So, why is flossing so important, and what’s the proper way to floss?
Flossing at least once daily removes food particles, bacteria, and plaque from all parts of your mouth. It reduces the risk of gum diseases and cavities. Skipping flossing or flossing improperly results in stained teeth and bad breath. However, flossing too much can also cause harm to the gums.
That’s the general idea behind flossing, but there’s a lot more to know about this important component of dental care. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of flossing, how often to floss in order to maintain good oral health, and how to floss properly.
How Many Times Per Day Should You Floss?
You already know how important it is to brush your teeth twice a day. Like brushing, it’s important that you floss daily, at least once a day, to maintain your oral hygiene.
You can floss twice a day as well, but avoid flossing too often; it’s unnecessary and may damage your gums.
A toothbrush can’t reach all the areas of your mouth, and plaque may still be stuck between your teeth after brushing. Flossing cleans the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth and also removes food particles stuck between your teeth.
It also prevents gum disease and can prevent major dental problems.
So, while you may get the urge to skip flossing since it’s slightly more time-consuming, doing so may eventually cause dental problems.
What’s the Correct Way to Floss?
You’ve probably been told by your dentist that brushing involves more than moving a toothbrush against your teeth. Well, there’s also a proper way to floss. Flossing the wrong way has no benefit for your dental health, and you may actually damage your teeth and gums.
Follow these steps to floss properly:
- Break off about 18 to 24 inches of regular dental floss (on Amazon). Wind the floss from one end to the middle finger of your right hand. Now, wind the other end around the middle finger of your left hand. A string of floss will be left between your fingers. You’ll need about 1 to 2 inches of floss for your teeth.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumb and index fingers. You should keep the string of floss straight between your thumb and fingers.
- Gently guide the floss between your teeth. Don’t apply too much pressure, or the floss will snap. With a rubbing motion, move the floss up and down between your teeth for cleaning.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it against one tooth to form a C-shape. After doing this, slowly guide the floss between the gum line and your tooth. Be careful not to drag the floss across your gums because it can cause them to bleed or bruise.
- Repeat all the steps as you move from one tooth to another to clean your whole mouth. Use a new section of floss for cleaning each tooth.
- When you’re finished, unwind the floss from your fingers and throw it away.
What Are the Signs You’re Flossing Too Much?
Flossing more than twice a day can do more harm than good. If you floss too much, it can severely damage your gums and cause gum infections in some cases.
If you apply too much pressure while flossing, it will likely cause your gum to bleed and get bruised. In the worst-case scenario, flossing too much can erode your gum line, which exposes the roots of your teeth.
When this happens, your teeth become more vulnerable to cavities and gum diseases.
But how can you know if you’re flossing too much? Here are some signs of over-flossing:
- Your gums feel sore after flossing: This is a sign that you’re aggressively flossing your gums instead of your teeth. The purpose of flossing is to remove bacteria and plaque between your teeth and along the gum line. So, don’t floss over your gums because it will cause permanent damage.
- Your gums begin to subside, and your teeth appear longer: If you have a habit of flossing in a fast sawing motion instead of a gentle rubbing one, then your gums may start subsiding. It’s a sign that you aren’t using the correct technique to floss.
- You feel irritation or have redder gums: If you feel irritation in your gums and they appear red and bruised, you need to dial down on your vigorous flossing habits.
What Are the Signs You’re Not Flossing Enough?
Many people think of flossing as a chore and don’t develop a habit of flossing daily. However, dentists claim that if you overlook flossing, it may cause irreversible dental problems in the long run.
Here are some red flags that show you aren’t flossing enough or you’re doing it incorrectly:
- Yellowish and stained teeth show that your oral hygiene routine is poor. If you’re already brushing twice daily, you need to start flossing at least once a day to clean plaque and avoid cavities.
- If you have bad breath despite brushing twice a day, it’s probably because brushing your teeth is not enough. Bad breath is one sign that you aren’t flossing properly.
- Bleeding gums also indicate that you’re not flossing regularly or you aren’t doing it properly. Flossing protects your gums from diseases and bleeding, but it requires consistency.