If your dentist notices that you have a lot of plaque and tartar on your teeth, they will likely tell you that you need to be brushing and flossing more. But if flossing tends to make you feel uncomfortable, you may feel reluctant to step it up to daily frequency.
You have a couple of choices here. You could put the idea out of your mind, never floss, and pay thousands in dental work later or possibly lose your teeth early. You could also grimly force yourself to floss every day and hope things will eventually get better.
Or, you can explore some options that may help your gums cope with better hygiene without swelling up and bleeding every day. Here are a few ways you can help your gums acclimate.
1. Take it Slow
If you haven’t had a regular flossing habit recently, don’t take the advice to floss every day too literally at first. Maybe your gums are so sensitive and inflamed that they just can’t handle it, and flossing daily right off the bat could even make things worse. Instead, start by flossing every other day to give your gums a chance to heal in between flossing.
The regular flossing will help keep your gums cleaner to reduce ongoing inflammation. Then once they’ve acclimatized to every-other-day flossing (maybe after a few days or a few weeks depending on what condition they’re in), you can try stepping it up to daily flossing.
2. Practice Gentle Technique
Even dental floss can have a cutting edge if pushed hard enough. Practice easing the floss into the gaps between your teeth and make sure your motions are smooth and gentle, not harsh and jerky.
If you have physical limitations that make gentle flossing difficult (for example, if your hands shake or if your teeth are so close together the floss can’t go in gently) you may want to look into using a floss stick or water flosser.
3. Find Gentler Floss
In addition to how you use it, the type of floss you use is important too. Look for dental floss that’s marketed for sensitive gums or for comfort. These types may be softer or silkier and designed to glide smoothly, or they may be designed with a more cushioned feeling.
If you’ve just been using the cheapest floss you can find, upgrading to a gentler one may make a difference for sensitive or inflamed gums. But be careful if your teeth are close together; some cushioned flosses may be thicker, making them harder to get between your teeth. Instead look for silky gliding types of floss in this situation.
4. Use a Soothing Rinse
Whether your gums are already sore and inflamed on a daily basis or whether they’re just sore after flossing, you might want to look into using a saltwater rinse after you floss. The saltwater, despite what you’ve heard about pouring salt on a wound, can actually be soothing to irritated and injured gum tissues.
This means that your gums can recover faster from each flossing. The salt water also helps to reduce the proliferation of bacteria in your mouth, which is especially important if you have gingivitis because bacteria are a major factor in gum disease.
5. Try a Water Flosser
Studies have shown that water flossing can help to decrease gum bleeding. So there are several ways you can use a water flosser to help your gums. You could start with daily water flossing first, then add or switch to dental floss when your gums are less sensitive.
Or alternate, using dental floss one day and the water flosser the next day. An additional benefit of water flossers is that you can fill them with saltwater or a gingivitis-fighting mouthwash solution.These five tips can help you start a new flossing habit gently and thoughtfully so you don’t just have to power through flossing painful and bleeding gums each morning. If you’re due for a checkup or having any recent dental problems, get in touch with Treasured Smiles Adult & Cosmetic Dentistry today.