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Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Flossing? in Surrey

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Man flossing his front bottom teeth.

Daily flossing is an integral part of a healthy oral hygiene routine. But sometimes, pain or discomfort after flossing could make us less likely to follow through. Your teeth can hurt after flossing for several reasons, including inflamed gums (and potentially gum disease), incorrect flossing technique, and less visible issues like cavities.

Pain after flossing is often only temporary, typically from irritation due to build up, and subsides as you floss more regularly. But you should see your dentist for an oral exam if your post-flossing discomfort persists or worsens. If the pain is from something like tooth decay or gum disease, then you need dental intervention.

Why Does It Hurt to Floss?

Many possible factors can cause pain or discomfort while flossing.

Gum Inflammation

Your gums are the gatekeepers to oral health. When bacteria thrive, they can provoke an immune response, causing swelling, redness, and pain.

Flossing inflamed gums can cause more discomfort or even bleeding and can be a sign that you need more oral care because these symptoms can be the first signs of gum disease.

If you experience gum discomfort, here are some tips:

  • Use a gentle, up-and-down motion when flossing to avoid aggravating the gums further.
  • Invest in soft, comfortable floss that is gentle on your gum tissue.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water, as it can soothe the inflamed area by helping get rid of bacteria.

Incorrect Flossing Technique

There’s a technique to flossing, and getting it wrong can be a pain—literally. 

If you push too hard, you can injure your gums, snap the floss into the gum line, and damage your teeth or dental work like crowns and fillings.

Here’s how to floss correctly:

  • Start by holding about 18 inches of floss. Wind most of it around your middle fingers.
  • Hold the floss taut between your thumbs and index fingers.
  • Begin flossing between your front teeth. Slide the floss gently up and down between each tooth, forming a ‘C’ shape to hug each tooth’s surface without force. Use a clean section of floss for each tooth to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Remember to floss the backs of your last molars as well.
  • Once you’ve flossed all your teeth, follow up by brushing your teeth to remove any loosened plaque or food particles.

Hidden Dental Issues

Gum disease, which includes gingivitis and periodontitis, can lead to inflammation and sensitivity and can lead to discomfort after flossing. Similarly, cavities or tooth decay, and enamel erosion expose the sensitive dentin, making flossing potentially painful.

When to See Your Dentist

It’s essential to address the issue promptly if you’re experiencing ongoing pain after flossing or brushing your teeth. This can help prevent any potential dental issues from worsening. Here’s when to see your dentist:

  • Persistent pain: If the pain persists for a few days despite using sensitive toothpaste or changing your flossing technique.
  • Bleeding gums: If your gums consistently bleed after flossing or brushing and are accompanied by pain.
  • Swelling or inflammation: If your gums are swollen, inflamed, or sensitive.
  • Loose teeth or receding gums: If you notice changes in your teeth, such as looseness or receding gums, coupled with pain.
  • Sensitivity to temperature: If you experience heightened sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages after oral hygiene practices.

The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing alone isn’t enough for healthy teeth. Food and plaque love to hide between teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing every day helps remove buildup and helps prevent cavities and gum disease.

In addition to flossing, the CDA also recommends brushing for 2 to 3 minutes twice a day. Mouthwash can also be a great addition to your oral hygiene routine, but it shouldn’t replace proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Preventing Flossing Pain

While flossing might cause some initial discomfort, especially if you’re new to it, a little prevention goes a long way. Aim for a proactive approach to oral hygiene, not just reacting to problems. Regular flossing will strengthen gum tissue and remove bacteria that lead to gingivitis and periodontitis.

To truly fight cavities, a balanced diet with less sugar and acid is your friend. Don’t forget those regular dental checkups, either!

Discuss Your Flossing Issues with Your Dentist

With a little effort and extra awareness, post-flossing pain can be a distant memory. Remember that persistent pain is often a sign of a bigger problem, so call your dentist if flossing causes sore or bleeding gums. Book an appointment with us at Genesis Dental. Our dental team can examine your mouth, review your symptoms, and determine whether you need further treatment.

Written by Dr. Sipra Gohel

Known to her patients as Dr. G, Dr. Sipra Gohel is a New York University-trained dentist who brings her many years of experience to our practice.
Dr. G’s career started while being raised in Houston, Texas, where she first explored the field of dentistry as a dental assistant. Hard work and her broad experience led to an acceptance at the New York University College of Dentistry, one of North America’s most fast-paced and prestigious dental colleges.
Upon completing her degree, Dr. G pursued her residency in general dentistry at Brooklyn Hospital. She subsequently spent the next 5 years in New York working in the boroughs of the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. She credits these busy settings and tremendously diverse spectrum of patients and their related dental care with providing her with the experience to become the dentist she is today.

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