Flossing: Myths and Facts

A lot of people don’t like flossing. It isn’t a habit that all people do. Taking out a piece of floss, wrapping it around their fingers, placing it between the teeth, and moving it can be too much of a process for some people. If you’re someone who doesn’t like flossing or doesn’t fully understand the method and its purpose, know that it’s helpful for the teeth and overall mouth health. Flossing is a crucial and important part of a healthy smile.

Do you know that the bacteria buildup in our teeth makes the gums prone to infection? Over time, this causes inflammation, and the chemicals released by it eats away the gums and bone structure that holds the teeth in place. This can cause gum disease.

Also, if you’re not flossing, cavities are more likely to form in between your teeth due to dental plaque buildup. Not all plaque can be removed by your ordinary toothbrush. Flossing can also help keep tartar out of the hard-to-reach areas in your teeth. Tartar and plaque can cause tooth decay that will lead to costly dental repairs you want to avoid. Flossing properly just once a day is one of the best things you can do to ensure you are taking good care of your teeth and gums.

Because flossing isn’t as usually done by all people than brushing, there are a lot of myths considering this practice. Let’s debunk the myths with facts here.

1. If gums are bleeding, you should stop flossing

Bleeding during flossing keeps a lot of people to stop flossing every day. But don’t worry, it’s totally normal. If you do bleed a lot, maybe you are flossing too enthusiastically. Try to be gentler and see whether you bleed less. Also check out the proper way to floss because maybe, you are doing it wrong and that caused the bleeding.

Sometimes, gums bleed because the bacteria growing between the teeth have inflamed the gums. This becomes all the more reason to floss. If you floss daily and visit a dentist regularly for cleanings, your gums will bleed less and less. When the bacteria are cleared out, bleeding during flossing will stop altogether, given that you floss the right way.

2. Flossing will cause fillings to loosen

People think that flossing may cause fillings to fall out. However, this will only happen if your filling is already loose or fractured, but these wouldn’t be because of the act of flossing. These fillings may have been poorly made, or you may have cavities in that area again, and these would need replacing. Flossing can actually make you aware of the problems with your fillings that you would not have known if you don’t floss. Flossing can also keep you from getting more dental fillings and other dental work like crowns, veneers, and more.

3. You don’t need to floss if there’s no food stuck between the teeth

A lot of people only remember to floss when they can feel that there’s food stuck between the teeth. While it’s true that flossing can remove food particles between teeth, it’s not the only reason to floss. You have a toothpick for that purpose, right? Also, you have food particles stuck between your teeth even if you don’t feel it. You won’t see them in the back reaches of your teeth unless you have advanced mirror and lighting technologies.

Flossing does not just remove food from teeth, but it’s even more useful in removing dental plaque that forms between the teeth, where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. This plaque is what causes cavities, swollen gums, and periodontal diseases, and this is the main reason to floss.

4. You can’t floss if your teeth are too close together

Flossing teeth that are too close together can be challenging, but it should not be your excuse to skip flossing. There are different types of floss out there, and there are thinner ones that can get between even the tightest of teeth. These kinds of flosses have slippery surfaces that can slide between tight spaces. Or you may just need to adjust your flossing technique. You can use a seesaw motion by moving the floss backward and forward to help maneuver the floss between the teeth.

5. Flossing is painful

It’s true that some flossing techniques can cause pain, but it usually happens when you floss harshly, which causes you to wound your gums. But if you use the correct type of floss, use it properly, and you have a healthy mouth, flossing shouldn’t hurt at all. If you have gum disease, it can be painful at first, but the more you do it, the less painful it becomes. Give it some time; your teeth will thank you for it. You can consult your dentist to help you come up with a technique that can make flossing less painful and more bearable.

6. Flossing is bad for receding gums

This myth isn’t true at all. In fact, flossing can prevent receding gums because it cleans the bacteria and food particles out from below the gum line. This reason makes flossing vital for people with gingivitis and hereditary receding gums. If your gums are already receding due to periodontitis, flossing can help prevent further damage.

7. Flossing is time-consuming

If you have 20 minutes to spare for scrolling social media, you have time to floss. You may have busier mornings, but you can floss after lunch, in the afternoon or at night. Once you get the hang of flossing properly, you will find that it would only take two to three minutes each day – five minutes max if you want to remove food particles wedged between the teeth. Regular flossing makes dental cleanings more comfortable, and it helps keep your teeth healthier. If you don’t have two to three minutes to spare in your day, then you might have bigger problems to deal with.

8. Flossing is hard to do

Flossing is now easier than ever before. Your dentist or oral hygienist can show you how to do it, but if you struggle to floss the traditional way with a long string of it, you can use a floss holder. It’s a Y-shaped dental instrument that has a small portion of floss between two prongs. Many people find floss holders easier to use because they only need one hand to use it. Dental floss holders also make it easier to reach those teeth at the further back of your mouth.

9. You can’t floss if you have braces

Not flossing while on braces is a bad idea. You may have braces on from 6 months to 2 or more years, and going that long without flossing can have detrimental effects on your oral hygiene. Food and bacteria still get stuck in the teeth no matter if you have braces or not. Though it may be harder to floss if you have braces, it is worth it once you get your braces off. If you find flossing with your braces difficult, you can consult your dentists, orthodontist or dental hygienist to help you perfect your technique.

10. Mouthwash can work as a replacement for flossing

 While mouthwash can definitely help keep your mouth clean (and fresher smelling too), it can’t be an effective replacement to floss. Swirling the mouthwash in the mouth can decrease the number of bacteria in the mouth, but it can’t remove stubborn plaque between teeth. When you floss, you intentionally reach into the places unreachable by brushing, and definitely, mouthwash also can’t reach it.