Every time you go to the dentist, you dread the question, “Do you floss regularly?” Every time, you answer, “Not really.” Your dentist encourages you to floss, you say you will, and then you promptly forget. What’s the big idea, anyway? Here are 7 Flossing Myths and the information dispelling the myth.

Flossing isn’t something your dentist encourages you to do just to give you one more thing to add to your daily checklist. Flossing is really as important as your dentist says it is. It removes food and plaque, prevents calculus and tarter and stops the onset of gum disease and cavities.

While you may not notice a huge difference when you don’t floss, your dentist and dental hygienist will. If you don’t floss, it will take him or her a lot longer to remove the buildup of plaque and tartar surrounding your teeth, and he or she may notice increased cavity risk.

Even if you know you should floss, it’s hard to remember to do so. Plus, many people believe false things about flossing that prevents the effectiveness of their flossing routine. Let’s look at some common myths about flossing and find out the truth behind these Flossing Myths.

Myth 1: You should floss only when you need to remove food particles

It’s true that flossing can remove food particles stuck between your teeth. These particles can irritate teeth and gums and lead to infection.

However, this isn’t the only reason to floss. There’s another, arguably more important reason, to floss several times a day—to remove plaque that appears between your teeth and at your gum line. Plaque, which is a combination of leftover food particles and saliva, contains bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. The longer you wait to floss, the more plaque forms in places in your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach.

So even if you have not eaten for a few hours and don’t see any visible food particles, go ahead and floss—your mouth will thank you.

Myth 2: You need to floss every time you brush your teeth

While flossing each time you brush is a good move, it is not necessary. You should floss one to two times a day, and it can be whenever works best for you. Some people floss every morning and night, but others floss after lunch or at other times during the day. The goal is to floss several times a day, and so long as you do that, it does not much matter when.

Myth 3: Children are too young to floss

Children develop cavities just as adults do, so they should still prevent cavities by flossing. Children younger than ten may have difficulty flossing on their own, so you should help your children floss. Childhood is the best time to develop good habits, so not only will you keep their teeth healthy, you will also help them develop a great oral hygiene habit for years to come.

Myth 4: Flossing is painful

Like most things in life, if it’s painful, something’s probably going wrong. Flossing may be painful when you’re not used to it, but after it becomes a regular habit, it really should not hurt. Some people stop flossing because it is initially painful, but this is the opposite of what they should do. If this happens to you, keep on flossing as gently as you can.

If flossing doesn’t get any less painful in a week or two, see a dentist. It might be that you’re using the wrong technique, or that there’s an issue in your mouth causing you pain when you try to floss.

Myth 5: If your gums bleed, you should stop flossing

If your gums bleed when you floss, that’s just a greater indication that you need to floss. Your gums could bleed simply because they’re not used to being flossed—or they could bleed because of gingivitis or gum disease. If your gums continuously bleed when you floss, see a dentist.

If your gums bleed, you may be flossing incorrectly. See the correct flossing method below.

Myth 6: There’s no right way to floss

That’s right: there’s a correct and incorrect way to floss. Incorrect flossing methods may not remove all food particles and plaque. Follow the most effective flossing method:

  • Remove 46 centimeters (18 inches) of floss and wind it around each middle finger (leaving a few centimeters for flossing)
  • Hold the floss between your thumbs and index fingers
  • Slide the floss up and down between two teeth
  • Curve the floss around the top of each tooth and gently floss beneath the gum line
  • Move to a new section of floss to floss the next area

Make sure not to floss too forcefully, as this could damage sensitive gums. Don’t forget about the plaque under the gum line, which is often forgotten or ignored. And make sure to use a clean section of floss every time.

Myth 7: Flossing is difficult

Flossing can be a little awkward, and getting the technique right may take a little getting used to. Some people may find flossing more difficult than others, but overall it should not be overly difficult for anyone. If you find it hard to reach the back of your mouth, try Y-shaped floss picks or interdental cleaners. Floss picks hold the floss for you, making it easier to reach the back of your mouth; however, they also may make it difficult to clean under the gum line. Interdental cleaners can clean hard-to-reach spots and around crowns and bridges.

Once you have practiced a bit with proper flossing technique, though, the whole flossing process should be a painless, easy-going experience that you will, hopefully, be only too glad to add to your regular oral hygiene routine.

Now that you know the truth behind these common flossing myths, it’s time to start flossing. Next time you visit your Calgary dentist, you can answer your dentist’s question, “Do you floss regularly?” with a resounding “Yes!”

For more information, visit our Calgary dental clinics at one of our Northwest Calgary locations:

Market Mall: 3625 Shaganappi Trail N.W Calgary
North Hill: 1695-1632 14 Ave N.W., NW Calgary