Every time you go to a dentist or switch on the television you see a dentist explaining you regarding proper technique of brushing and flossing. Though the technique seems simple, as it generally involves rubbing of floss around the tooth, but it is not 

that simple. If done in a wrong way, flossing can lead to various gingival and periodontal problems.

In the article titled "What is Flossing" we already discussed regarding flossing, types of dental floss and techniques of flossing.

So, today we will be covering some mistakes that occur commonly while flossing.

Mistakes Commonly Encountered While Flossing

Not Flossing: The first and the foremost common mistake done is not flossing at all. Flossing helps to get rid of the plaque and calculus that is not at all visible and can’t be removed while brushing. So, if we are not into the habit of flossing, then it allows further accumulation of calculus and debris in the interdental areas thereby aggravating the gingival and dental problems.

Also missing flossing a day or two can also lead to the accumulation of tartar (Calculus can start to accumulate if we don’t floss for couple of days).

Food Removal: Another common perception of people is that floss is to be used only when food particles gets lodged inside the teeth. Though it can be used to remove interdentally lodged food stuff but this function of floss in secondary. The primary function is to remove the thin invisible bacterial film called plaque. So, use floss for removing plaque and calculus and not only stuck food.

Improper Methods:  Flossing is a work of patience. It needs cleaning of every tooth from all the sides. It has been generally noticed that out of hurry, one forgets one or the other side of the tooth. This act of flossing is equivalent to not flossing at all. The right technique is that if you are pushing one tooth with the floss then you need to pull the adjacent tooth.

Inadequate Flossing Pressure: Fearing of the gum laceration, people don’t apply much pressure while flossing but the truth is that to dislodge the tartar accumulated sub gingivally (below the gingiva) and interdentally (in between the teeth) fair amount of flossing pressure is needed.  Hold the floss gently with the forefingers, press it firmly against the tooth and move it along the long axis of the tooth. Also while flossing, move the floss sub gingivally also as it is the prime area to clean.

Using Same Area for All Teeth: By using the same side of floss to clean all the teeth, you are not removing bacteria but spreading the bacteria from one tooth to another. Also it will not adequately remove plaque because the plaque removed from the previous tooth will accumulate in another tooth. So, change the section of floss for each tooth.

Avoiding Posterior Most Teeth: Teeth lying way back in the mouth are more prone to bacterial accumulation due to non feasibility while brushing and flossing.  Though flossing is difficult in those regions but by practicing you will become used to it and won’t find it difficult to reach there and floss.

Have a Plan: Before you start any work, you prepare a protocol for it then why not have a protocol for flossing? Have a well made plan that which quadrant you will be covering first and which side of the tooth will be covered first and which last. This will not only allow efficient and proper cleaning of the each and every tooth but will also save your time. Ideally the proper order should be starting from the middle one (central incisor) and going backward. You can cover all the four quadrants this way.

Stopping if Bleeding: Did you start flossing but seeing the blood oozing out you stopped? If this is the reason you don’t floss then it shouldn’t be done again. The main reason behind bleeding on flossing is that you didn’t floss for long due to which there in inflammation of gums and due to slight flossing they start to bleed. So, next time you see blood coming out after flossing, don’t freak out, just continue to brush. Bleeding will stop in a day or two if you continue to floss in a healthy manner.

Tips For Effective Flossing

Now as you are aware of common mistakes while flossing let us tell you in brief some tips to maintain healthy gums by flossing effectively.

Floss Once Daily:  Flossing once daily is more than enough. Too much flossing will cause erosion of enamel and not flossing will cause bacterial accumulation thereby damaging your teeth and gums.

Floss Gently: Don’t be too harsh on the teeth while flossing. Take adequate time and rub floss gently on all the tooth surfaces. Excessive pressure can erode the enamel layer and can also loosen up your teeth.

Floss on Inner Tooth Surface: Don’t concentrate on the visible areas of the teeth. Bacteria accumulate more on the invisible surfaces i.e. inner tooth surfaces. So, focus on all the tooth surfaces while flossing. Floss in up and down motion rather than to and fro motion but don’t floss too deeply. It can be damaging to the tooth roots.


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