Practicing proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease in order to maintain your oral health. According to the American Dental Association, proper oral hygiene consists of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. In addition to completing these behaviors, it is also important to use the proper methods to get the most out of an oral hygiene routine. When it comes to flossing, the best way to do this is to prevent yourself from making these common flossing mistakes:
Not Flossing Regularly
One very common mistake people often make with flossing is that they don’t do it regularly. In fact, only about 30% of Americans floss daily, while 37% floss less than daily, and 32% never floss. Not flossing regularly unfortunately allows plaque to accumulate and only daily flossing ensures that this plaque is removed. When plaque is left in place, it can increase the risk of developing both tooth decay and gum disease.
In addition to not flossing regularly, another common mistake people make is that they miss certain places. One of the most common areas neglected by flossing is just behind the last molars. Oftentimes, many people don’t think this area needs to be flossed, however it is important to floss behind the molars, as well as in between all the teeth. Additionally, the sides of each tooth should be carefully flossed in addition to the gum line.
Flossing Too Hard or Too Much
Your gums should not bleed when you floss. If your gums do bleed, this can either be a sign of gum disease or a sign that you are flossing too hard. Dental floss should move gently between the teeth and along the gum line, however it should never be pulled or snapped down across the gums. Regularly hitting the gum tissue with dental floss can irritate the gum tissue and cause the gums to recede, or pull away from the gums. Therefore, you should gently move the floss between your teeth in a direction that moves away from the gums. Additionally, flossing too much can also cause gum irritation. To prevent gum irritation, it is recommended to only floss once a day.
Flossing at the Wrong Time
Although flossing at any time is better than not flossing at all, there is an ideal time frame for flossing. The best time to floss is just before going to bed since this removes any excess plaque from the teeth before saliva production is decreased while you sleep. When saliva production is decreased, the bacteria in your mouth can be more damaging to your teeth, which is why it is important to remove as much bacteria as possible. Additionally, it is also recommended to floss before you brush so that the fluoride from the toothpaste can work its way in between your teeth.
Not Using the Right Floss
Not all dental floss is the same. In fact, there are different types of dental floss that offer a range of options. Some types of dental floss are made to fit in tight spaces, while others are better for flossing between teeth with gaps between them. Doing some research to determine what type of dental floss is best for you can help to maximize your flossing routine.