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
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?
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.
Braces, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances are there to help you, but they do put you at risk for various oral health issues. That’s why, in addition to brushing properly, it’s important to use both mouthwash and floss. Orthodontic braces treatment will only be successful if you follow these oral hygiene practices.
Oral hygiene with braces is important because gingivitis, or gum disease, can occur. If too much plaque builds up, your gums will become irritated and infected. Decalcification of tooth enamel is another possibility. Plaque builds up when you eat, while acids produced by eating and drinking also help to decalcify tooth enamel, leaving white spots on teeth. Brushing your teeth is important but is not enough.
A mouth rinse after you brush and floss is a good idea. There are many over-the-counter and prescription products. These can reduce irritation caused by your orthodontic treatment and can alleviate gum inflammation. A good mouthwash can remove biofilm. If it contains fluoride, even better, but don’t rinse immediately after brushing because that will eliminate the concentrated fluoride in toothpaste before it has a chance to work.
After a fluoride rinse, wait 30 minutes to eat or drink. Also, it helps to choose a different time to use a mouthwash. Wait until after lunch or a time it’s easy to remember. There are also different kinds, including desensitizing, cosmetic, whitening, and anti-plaque mouthwash, depending on your needs.
Dental floss helps remove plaque and food between teeth. Regular flossing has other benefits as well, such as reducing bad breath and gum disease. If you have braces, flossing may be a challenge.
- Floss before you brush your teeth.
- Use waxed floss that won’t catch and shred.
- Take about 18 inches of dental floss.
- Thread it under the wire and pass it between your teeth.
- Gently move up and down, remove it, and repeat with the next pair of teeth.
- Use about 8-10 up and down strokes between each tooth.
Getting the floss under the wire can be tough. A floss threader can make this much easier. Ask your orthodontist for other options that can make flossing with braces simpler.
For the best results, floss before brushing. The debris you remove may still be on or near your teeth and gums. Brushing will remove it.
Get the Most Out of Your Orthodontic Care
Your orthodontic services professional may also recommend other techniques. A manual toothbrush may do fine, but remember to brush around every bracket and any other piece of hardware. Another option is a sonic toothbrush, but it should be used along with flossing to make sure all the plaque is removed. When brushing, remove bands and elastics and clean round all brackets and wires, moving from top to bottom. Make sure you reach every part of each tooth.
At Labbe Family Orthodontics, everyone is treated like family. With us, you have a local orthodontist specializing in all types of orthodontic services in Annapolis, Gambrills, Bowie, and Greenbelt, Maryland. Call us at 443-603-3448 today to schedule an appointment.
Why is flossing so important, exactly? Even if you brush your teeth four times a day, there are some areas that brush bristles simply cannot reach. The areas between the teeth, for example, generally go untouched by standard brushing. These hidden areas require flossing to remove plaque and help clear any food debris that may be stuck there (which could otherwise encourage bacterial growth). Without flossing, areas of your teeth essentially go uncleaned, which could be a risk factor for tooth and gum disease.
The Potentially Serious Repercussions of Not Flossing
If you don’t regularly floss between each of your teeth, small bits of food can become food sources for harmful bacteria that can rot your teeth and cause gum disease. The following are just a few of the possible issues you may be at risk of developing should you regularly fail to floss:
- Bleeding gums due to gingivitis or periodontitis
- Chronic bad breath (as food particles rot)
- Yellow, orange, or brown teeth
- Tooth cavities
- Rotting and loss of teeth
- Build-up of tartar (hardened plaque)
In severe cases, a patient who fails to keep his or her teeth properly cleaned and flossed can lose his or her entire smile, leading to a need for specialized orthodontic care and, ultimately, dentures or implants. Of course, inflamed gums and teeth that are rotten or have developed cavities often cause a great deal of pain.
How to Floss Properly (and Get in the Habit)
The best way to protect your mouth from serious tooth decay, gum disease and pain is to get into a habit of taking care of your teeth right now. No matter how old you are, you never grow out of the need for good oral hygiene!
To floss your teeth properly, get yourself a piece of floss about a foot and a half in length. Wrap the ends around your two middle fingers, then hold a short length of the floss with your thumbs and forefingers as you would normally.
When your grip on the floss is comfortable, gently guide it into the spaces between your teeth without letting it snap harshly against your gums. Make sure to wrap the floss slightly up and around the top of the tooth so that you clean the space beneath the gums. As you move the floss along the sides of your teeth, rub it gently along the surfaces to loosen debris and buildup. When you’re finished, always throw your used floss away—never re-use it!
If you’re a parent, consider turning bedtime and/or morning flossing into a sort of “family event” where you all floss together and practice good technique. Not only will this set a good example for the little ones, it will also help you stay on track with your own oral health.
At Labbe Family Orthodontics, We Care About Your Teeth
Whether you’re a flossing champion or need a little more encouragement, the orthodontic specialists at Labbe Family Orthodontics will be happy to help you take care of your smile. Contact us today to make an appointment with an orthodontist at one of our four Maryland locations.
Few orthodontists are equipped with their own 3D printers. Even fewer manage to make fixing teeth a fun experience. At Labbe Family Orthodontics, you get the best of both worlds: great attitude and the latest technology.
“I have wanted to be an orthodontist since I was in 8th grade,” says Dr. Labbe. His youthful passion shows through every time a patient steps into his office.
Once a teacher and staff member at Prince George’s Hospital, Labbe now devotes his time to his local Maryland orthodontic practice, which serves both children and adults with the same level of buoyant enthusiasm.
Recognized as one of North America’s top 125 orthodontic practices by The Schulman Group, Labbe Family Orthodontics has grown impressively since its founding over four decades ago. It now boasts four locations around Maryland—in Annapolis, Crofton, Bowie, and Greenbelt.
If you really want to be impressed, though, step into any of one of Labbe’s four offices. There you’ll see all the latest gizmos, such as ITero scanners that send intra-oral scans directly to an in-house lab where a 3D printer is waiting to create high-quality models.
It’s that kind of dedication to state-of-the-art orthodontic care that makes Labbe one of the best orthodontists in the country and, also, one of the top one percent of Invisalign providers in the nation.
One thing is clear: Labbe and his staff may take great joy in their work, but they also take their smiles very seriously.
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