Flossing too deep

man with mouth wide open, looking at his teeth in the red mirror, flossing deep hurt gums

No one can deny the importance of flossing. It is the only act capable of adequately cleaning the shielded areas between the teeth, where the toothbrush can’t reach.

Some people complain of painful gums and even swollen gums after flossing, and that is unfortunate because most people use dental floss (particularly string floss) wrongly, and as a result, they end up doing more harm than good, injuring their gums in the process.

And that is because no one has taught them the correct way to use flossing material (meaning their dentist or hygienist) so if you suffer from constantly bleeding gums and continuous injury, ask your dentist for advice.

To know the correct flossing technique, we must first run through the various methods of flossing that are available.

Find it Difficult to Floss With Your Braces/Crowns/Bridges

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Methods of flossing

Contrary to popular belief, flossing does not necessarily mean using a piece of string to remove the food debris stuck between the teeth.

It means cleaning the surfaces between the teeth by any means available, the one that makes you most comfortable. These means include:

  • String floss: Old but gold. It is the most commonly used method around the world and is also the cheapest and most convenient since you can get a pack of string floss at almost any store in your neighborhood. But again, nothing is without its drawbacks.
    String floss is the most damaging of all flossing methods since it is - more often than not - incorrectly used by most people, but we'll get to that in a little while.
  • Floss Picks: A variation of string floss, where a small piece of string is mounted on a C-shaped frame made of plastic.
    This facilitates the hold and use of the string and enables even the most uncoordinated people to use floss.
    It is also of great significance to people with manual dexterity issues such as Parkinson's disease patients and of course children.
    In fact, if used correctly, it could be the easiest method of flossing on this list.
  • Interdental Brushes: A small, tooth pick-shaped instrument, only the active end is made of bristles (like the hairs of a toothbrush) rather than solid wood.
    This enables the interdental brush to slip easily between the tight teeth so that the bristles could gather as much of the plaque and food remnants as possible while causing minimal to no damage to the teeth and gums.
    They are of particular importance to people who wear braces and if you have to floss around large restorations as bridges and crowns.
  • Air Flossers: They have a variety of designs, but most are shaped like a pen, with a small nozzle that directs a strong stream of air between the teeth, pushing the debris and plaque away.
    They are quite effective, but some people complain of tooth sensitivity and sometimes even downright tooth pain when using them since this stream of air could be quite hot, and could also damage your gums.
  • Water Flossers: The epitome of oral hygiene. Water flossers have been around for more than 10 years, but only recently have they been discovered to be so effective.
    Numerous studies have gone to compare them to other methods of flossing, and proved without a shadow of a doubt that no method of the previous ones could hold a candle to what water flossers (AKA Waterpiks) can do.
    With over 90% success rate in cleaning debris and reducing gum bleeding, as well as being more than 50% more effective in reducing gum disease compared to other methods, it is hard to argue with the results.
    Sadly, though, they are not for everyone since they are quite expensive, not to mention messy and bulky so it could be unsuitable for some people.

The correct method of using floss

Flossing teeth is a delicate maneuver, and mastering the use of floss takes hard work. Now that we know all the different flossing methods out there, we need to understand how to use them.

Some are quite obvious like the interdental brushes where you just stick them between the teeth with care until they come out the other side, and air and water flossers with their simple “point and click” mechanisms.

The main problem lies with the string methods, namely the regular string floss and the floss picks.

As for string floss, all you need to do is cut out a piece about 18 to 20 inches of the string and wind enough of it around your two index fingers so it doesn’t slip.

Next, you should guide the taut piece of string between the teeth, and press down until you hear a “pop”.

This “pop” means the string just passed through the contact point between the teeth and is now in direct contact with the gums and ready to clean this area.

This is the part where you need to be extra careful because too much force or depth could damage the gums, teeth, and even cause bone loss with repeated misuse.

You just have to rest the string on the side of your teeth, and go about 2 mm – no more – beneath the visible gum line, any more than that and you risk damage, which could be quite severe.

It is this step that most people fail to perform correctly.

Of course, the situation is a lot easier with floss picks, where all you have to do is use the frame to direct the small piece of floss between the teeth, but again with extreme care not to push too far, same as before.

What could happen if I floss incorrectly or too deep

The sequel of improper flossing is dire, to say the least. In fact, incorrect flossing is almost as damaging as not flossing at all!!

Here is what could happen:

  • Bleeding gums: It always starts with bleeding. You may think it insignificant, but continuous bleeding means the presence of a problem, either already established gum disease or injury due to improper flossing, in either case, a visit to your dentist is a must.
  • Gumline recession: Repeated injury t the gums would eventually lead to the gums shying away from the necks of the teeth, which causes both an aesthetic problem as well as sensitivity due to the exposure of the sensitive roots.
  • Tooth Sensitivity: While floss can’t damage your teeth directly (since they are quite solid), it can actually cause tooth pain, only indirectly. With a continuous injury to the gums and gum line recession, the roots of the teeth which are quite sensitive become exposed to the oral environment, so you would expect any hot or cold foods and drinks to cause some tooth sensitivity.
  • Pockets: This is the unfortunate end result of bad tooth flossing, and also one of the late symptoms of gum disease. Not only do the gums get damaged, but the bone starts to be affected as well. The bone that forms a collar around the teeth starts to recede, and as a result, spaces start to form between the teeth which leads to more damage since these tend to trap food particles and plaque, and you become more liable for tooth decay.

What should you do to avoid all this, you ask?

well, simply, you need to learn the correct way of using dental floss, and who better to teach you than your dentist or hygienist?

Only they can explain all the correct methods of flossing and help you decide which suits you best.

Our advice: If you can, you can’t go wrong with Waterpiks.

If they are an affordable option, just skip all the hassle and get the best option for you and your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you floss too hard?

Flossing too hard leads to injury of the gums, and repeated injury could cause gum bleeding, teeth sensitivity as well as bone recession, and pockets formation.

How far should the floss go into your gums?

Not more than 2 mm beyond the visible edge of the gums.

Why do my gums ache after flossing?

This could be due to a number of reasons, the most common of which is because you hurt your gums.

Other reasons include established gum disease, and it may be even your gums starting to heal from gum disease.

Can Flossing Damage teeth?

Not directly, as teeth are quite solid; However, incorrect flossing could lead to sensitivity and pain due to gum recession, and also pockets and space formation trap more food between the teeth which could eventually lead to tooth decay.

Ditch the String Floss. Upgrade to a Water Flosser. 

String floss causes pain and gum bleeding. A water flosser uses a stream of water to effectively remove plaque. Learn more: Best Water Flosser Review – Ditch String Floss For Good

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