As Associated Press points out in their study on flossing, if you are doing it wrong, it can do more harm than good. Flossing improperly can damage your gums, teeth, and dental work.
The American Dental Association advises to brush your teeth at least twice a day and to floss once a day. The purpose of flossing is not just to remove food remains that get stuck between your teeth, but more importantly to remove the bacteria between your teeth that turns into plaque and the development of germs that cause bad breath, among other things.
Below are some of the most common flossing mistakes you should avoid:
1. Only floss with front and back motions
It’s not enough to just move the floss in the space between two teeth. In order to completely remove plaque, you need to actively scrape against both sides of every tooth and clean them. To effectively remove the plaque, you also need to move the floss up and down, and not use front and back motions, as many people do.
2. Not flossing behind the back teeth
Bacteria can be found even in the back of your mouth, so although you might think there’s no point since there isn’t another tooth next to them, it is important to clean behind the back teeth. As with every tooth, in order to feel the benefits of flossing and proper oral hygiene, you need to spend the right amount of time cleaning each tooth. You should clean each side of your teeth for a few seconds, repeating the scraping motion 10 times to get the best results.
3. Using the same piece of floss for every tooth
When using dental floss, the main goal is to remove bacteria to prevent tooth decay. Thus, if you are using the same piece of floss to clean all of your teeth, you are just spreading the bacteria around your mouth. To prevent spreading bacteria, use a new piece of floss for cleaning each space between the teeth.
4. Not flossing when your gums start bleeding
When you haven’t flossed your teeth for a while, the plaque starts accumulating, your gums become inflamed, and they bleed when you start flossing again. Even though you might think you are hurting your gums because they are bleeding, you shouldn’t stop because you need to remove all the plaque that has accumulated to avoid more serious problems. If you floss regularly, your gums should stop bleeding.
5. Flossing only to remove food
Contrary to the popular belief, the purpose of flossing is not just to remove the food you see and feel stuck between your teeth. The main goal is to scrape your teeth to remove the plaque, which can cause bad breath and make your teeth yellow. So while flossing when there is food stuck in between teeth is good, it’s better to floss daily regardless. Prevent incurring damage to your gums by not flossing excessively multiple times a day.
6. You are flossing too hard
When you are flossing against the sides of your tooth, you need to press firmly enough to remove the plaque, but you need to be careful and not slam the floss down aggressively between your gums, or you will injure them.
If you want to take flossing seriously, be sure that you are doing it the right way in order to avoid wasting your time doing it improperly. If for some reason you can’t floss or simply don’t like it, you can consider using other alternatives, such as interdental brushes, which are small brushes that are used to clean the space between your teeth, or mouthwash, which is used to remove the plaque and prevent gum disease at its early stages.
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