Did you know that only 31% of people in the UK floss between their teeth, and only 5% of people do it regularly? It’s a startling figure, we know, especially since it’s pretty likely that your dentist tells you to floss at every appointment. As they should – the NHS suggests that everyone over the age of 12 should floss (or use interdental brushes if they prefer) every day as part of their oral health routine. So why is it that so many people avoid the minty-tasting white string? Well, it turns out that there are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation out there about flossing. And you know how much we like to bust a good myth, especially if it’s around oral hygiene. So today, we thought we’d bring you the truth and the lies around flossing.
Myth 1: Flossing Is Painful Flossing shouldn’t hurt. If you’re using the right type of floss and your mouth is healthy, then you shouldn’t experience any pain at all. True, if you have gum disease then flossing can feel a little uncomfortable when you first start, but after a while it will feel more normal. If you’re experiencing pain when flossing, you should make an appointment to see your dentist.
Myth 2: I Should Only Floss When I Have Something Stuck In My Teeth
A lot of people will only break out the dental floss when they have something stuck between their teeth and it’s driving them crazy. And flossing is a great way to remove trapped particles from in-between your teeth, that much is true. But it’s not the only reason you should floss. For one, you are more likely to get things stuck between your teeth if you have built up plaque blocking the gaps and causing tightness. Flossing removes the plaque and prevents tooth decay (and things getting stuck).
Myth 3: Flossing Will Make My Receding Gums Worse
You can also use Interdental Brushes
If you have receding gums, you might be too scared to floss in case it makes them worse. This is the last thing you want, and we completely understand this fear. But thankfully there is no truth to that myth at all. In fact, regular flossing can actually prevent your gums from receding further, since it helps clear out food particles and bacteria from below the gumline. So if you have gingivitis, gum disease or receding gums, flossing is actually a more crucial part of your oral health routine than most.
Myth 4: I Shouldn’t Floss Because I Have Braces
Braces make flossing a challenging task, and a lot of people end up giving up and just not flossing while they have braces. But this is a really bad idea. Giving up on flossing for months or even years can lead to some nasty discoveries when you have the braces off. Just imagine all the food particles and bacteria in-between your teeth when you have them taken off! Or, look at it another way – there is no point in straightening your teeth if they’re not going to be healthy when your braces are removed.
Myth 5: My Teeth Are Too Tight To Floss Properly
This is something we hear a lot. If you have tight teeth with very little space in-between, the flossing can be a bit more of a challenge. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all. Instead, you just need to change your technique a little. A good tip for flossing tight teeth is to use a see-sawing motion to get the floss between your teeth. You could also try a waxed floss, which will slide between your teeth easier, and opting for a thinner floss will help too.
Flossing is an important part of your oral hygiene routine, and we dentists recommend it for a reason. It helps remove bacteria from your mouth and keeps plaque from building up between your teeth, causing problems. It can also help treat some dental conditions, like receding gums and gingivitis, and can prevent bad breath and even tonsil stones. If you’re not sure how to floss properly, or you’re struggling to find a way that works for you, talk to your dentist or hygienist. They will be happy to demonstrate the techniques to you and even recommend products that will help.