In our nearly 30 years as a Jacksonville dental practice, we have seen many success stories of people who either did not floss at all or who did not floss correctly change their ways. As a result, they showed major improvement in the number of cavities they had, the severity of their gum disease, and even their halitosis. So in this post, we will detail some of the most common flossing mistakes and how to fix them.Jacksonville dentist Dr. Harris Rittenberg explains common flossing mistakes and how to correct them.

The Wrong Technique

Most adults have 28 teeth after their wisdom teeth come out, which means there are 56 surfaces that need flossing attention. Both sides of each tooth need some individual attention so the floss string can scrape away the plaque and food build-up.

The common mistake here is rushing. People just stick the string between their teeth and pull it out again without paying attention to both tooth surfaces. This mistake can lead to uneven results, which allows decay and cavities to occur.

The Wrong Pressure

Some people go at it with too much muscle, which can lead to gum recession. Others are too gentle and skip some surfaces if the floss does not easily settle into a tooth gap or if he or she sees some blood on the floss string.

Tip: Many people who start flossing will see blood on the floss string initially. This is because the gums are red and inflamed. Consistent flossing is one of the best ways to reduce this inflammation and (in most instances) the bleeding should stop after just a few sessions.

The Wrong Routine

One of the best ways to integrate flossing into your oral health regimen is to make it part of a routine. However, this practice has one drawback: if you make a bad flossing habit routine, it can be tough to break.

For instance, many people floss in the same pattern every time. If there is a flaw in the pattern – such as missing a back tooth surface – it may not get caught until decay has already occurred.

The Right Way

In a recent poll, the American Dental Association asked participants: “Is it better to floss before or after you brush your teeth?” 53% said they brushed before flossing; 47% said “after.”

It is a bit of a trick question. As the ADA says (and we agree), the most important aspect of flossing is doing it at least once a day. As long as the job is thorough and effective, the time of day when it occurs is not important.

As for technique, the ADA says the following five steps are key to a successful flossing session:

  1. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
  2. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  3. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
  4. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  5. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the backside of your last tooth.

For More Information

Please contact us if you live in Jacksonville and need help with flossing technique. We love helping our patients with their home oral care routine and would be happy to help.