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Should Flossing Be Painful?

Flossing, a highly recommended oral hygiene habit, should not be painful. In fact, experiencing pain when flossing or brushing can be an indication of an underlying health problem. Flossing with braces can trigger pain from already sensitive teeth and gums. Tips from your local orthodontic practice can help, which will be explained later. First, here are some reasons it may hurt to floss.

Causes of Gum Pain

Beautiful young woman suffering from toothache

It is possible you brushed your teeth too hard, irritating your gums. However, underlying conditions that can lead to pain include:

  • Gingivitis: Having sore gums is the most common sign of this early form of gum disease. When plaque builds up on teeth, it can cause gum tissue to become swollen and tender. Gingivitis can lead to more serious gum disease if not treated.
  • Periodontitis: An advanced form of gum disease, periodontitis is a serious infection that can damage soft tissue, destroy bone, and cause tooth loss. Affected gums can be painful, tender, swollen, red, and bleed easily.
  • Poor Diet: A diet rich in vitamin C, calcium, and other nutrients can reduce your risk of developing gum disease, thereby helping prevent sore gums. To protect your gums, avoid or limit intake of bread, candy, citrus, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.

Using tobacco has also been associated with gum disease. Inflammation in the body can be brought on by stress, which can affect your gums. Another contributor to gum pain and disease is a lack of oral hygiene. It’s also possible you’re using a toothbrush with hard bristles, which can be corrected by selecting a softer brush and adjusting your brushing technique. Make sure you brush twice a day and reach all teeth surfaces and along the gum line.

How Should You Be Flossing?

Close up of toothbrush and dental floss

While it’s important to floss daily, doing so improperly can damage your teeth and gums. The proper steps to flossing are as follows:

  • Cut 18 to 24 inches of dental floss and wind most of it around your middle fingers.
  • Hold the string with your thumbs and index fingers, so it is taut.
  • Gently place the floss between two teeth.
  • Glide it gently up and down along the sides of each tooth.
  • Curve the floss at the base to reach between the tooth and gums.
  • Repeat, and avoid gliding the floss into your gums, which can cause bruising.

If you have braces, waxed floss won’t get stuck or tear. Use the same amount of floss and stand in front of a mirror. Begin flossing between your teeth and the main wire. Twisting loose ends around your index fingers makes it easier to maneuver. When fitting the floss between teeth, be as gentle as possible. For better coverage, make an upside-down U when flossing your top teeth, and then unthread the floss from behind the wire.

Call Your Dentist or Orthodontics Clinic if Flossing Hurts

If you’re receiving teeth straightening treatment, flossing can be more difficult, but it should never hurt. Pain and swelling can be a sign of an emergency. Call Labbe Family Orthodontics at 443-603-3448 if you have gum pain after flossing or would like to schedule an appointment at one of our Maryland clinics.

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