Did you know that the way you floss can affect your oral health? In fact, there are a few common mistakes that dentists often notice their patients making when it comes to flossing. Unfortunately, these flossing mistakes can take away the effectiveness of your flossing routine and some can even be potentially harmful to your oral health. Next time you floss, be careful not to make these common flossing mistakes: 

Not Flossing

When it comes to flossing mistakes, by far the biggest mistake people make is to just not floss. Even if you floss right before your dental appointment, your dentist can still tell that you don’t floss on a regular basis. Brushing your teeth only cleans about 60% of your tooth’s surface, while flossing cleans the remaining 40%, which means that not flossing leaves plenty of plaque and bacteria in your mouth. 

Flossing Too Much

woman flossing her teeth

Flossing too much is not nearly as common as not flossing at all, but it does happen. Contrary to popular belief, flossing multiple times a day is not actually better for your teeth. In fact, flossing too much can irritate your gums and cause them to recede. For this reason, the American Dental Association recommends only flossing once a day. 

Missing Places

Another common mistake you may be making while flossing is that you miss certain places. This is actually quite common and many dentists notice that their patients tend to miss the same places. The most common places people forget to floss are: behind the last molars, along the sides of the teeth, and around dental appliances or restorations. 

Using the Wrong Floss

types of dental floss

Many people don’t realize that there are different types of dental floss that can work for a variety of needs. For example, some types of floss work well for crowded teeth, while others are designed to clean dental appliances. Knowing what types of floss are available can help you to determine the best type of floss for your daily routine. If you are unsure, this is a great question for your dentist. 

Smacking the Gums

When flossing, your strand of floss should never smack against the gums. You should also never apply too much pressure with the floss. Doing so can cause gum irritation, bleeding, and can even lead to gum recession. To minimize the risk of hitting your gums, start at the gum line and move the dental floss away from the gums. 

Not Flossing at the Best Time

Believe it or not, there is an ideal time for flossing and you should always try to floss at this time. The best time to floss is before you brush your teeth and go to bed. This is because saliva production decreases at night, so you will want to remove as much plaque and bacteria as possible to minimize dental erosion. Flossing before you brush your teeth is also beneficial because it removes plaque from between the teeth and allows the fluoride from toothpaste to coat the area in between your teeth. 

Dr. Edward Formica has been practicing Dentistry in Hemet since he graduated from UCLA in 1990.  He is a member of Tri-County Dental Society, American Dental Association, California Dental Association, Hemet/San Jacinto Exchange Club, Healthy Valley Foundation, Valley Trails Alliance and the Western Science Board.  

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