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Flossing. It’s one of America’s least favorite necessities. In fact, a study from the American Academy of Periodontology found that more than a third of people would rather do a sink load full of dishes, scrub the toilet, wait in a super long checkout line, or sit in standstill traffic than floss. What’s the deal? Why is flossing so despised?

With more than half Americans not flossing regularly, and 20% who don’t floss at all, our Memphis dental office wanted to look at some common reasons people forgo the floss.

  1. Flossing hurts.

If flossing hurts or makes your gums bleed, it’s actually a sign that you should floss more, not less. When gums are healthy, flossing is painless and no bleeding occurs. Bleeding gums is one of the key signs of gum disease and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Gum disease can lead to whole-body concerns like increased risk for stroke and heart attack. If you experience pain or bleeding while flossing, make sure you get into the habit of flossing daily. If the pain or bleeding doesn’t go away, see your dentist in Memphis as soon as possible.

  1. It’s difficult to do.

Flossing requires dexterity to reach in between each and every tooth – especially the ones way in the back. Some people have trouble maneuvering their hands to accommodate a proper flossing, especially those who have had a stroke, injury, or arthritis. However, there are other ways to floss successfully besides traditional floss. Y-shaped plastic, disposable, flossers; water flossers; electric flossers; and even old-fashioned toothpicks are all easier to use and provide many of the benefits of regular floss.

  1.  Am I doing it right?

Flossing seems like it should be easy, but the truth is, there is a proper technique. If you aren’t sure if you’re flossing correctly, it may be uncomfortable and you may stop doing it. Stick with it, follow these directions, and flossing will become much easier.

o      Start with 18 inches or so of floss and wrap the ends around each middle finger.

o      Pull it tight and gently wiggle back and forth between teeth until it reaches the gum line.

o      Form the floss into a “U” shape and curve it around the tooth.

o      Apply gentle pressure and slide the floss up and down.

o      Slide it out and repeat between each tooth using a clean section of floss

At our dental office in Memphis, we encourage all of our patients to pair proper brushing with a thorough flossing for optimal oral health. If you’re having trouble finding a flossing technique that’s comfortable, are experiencing pain or bleeding when you do floss, or want to know if you’re doing it correctly, give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to help.

Welcoming patients from Memphis, Germantown, and Cordova.