Most people dislike flossing because it is difficult, annoying, and time consuming to floss after every meal. To make matters worse, if you’ve never flossed before then the first time your gums might bleed quite a bit. You could even experience lingering pain after flossing! Is it normal to bleed or feel pain in your gums when you floss? In this article, we will explain why you might bleed or feel lingering pain, and ways to prevent this from happening in the future.
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Is it Normal to Feel Lingering Pain After Flossing?
If you do not regularly floss and are just starting to make flossing a habit, then yes it is normal to bleed and to feel lingering pain after flossing. This is because people who don’t floss regularly have gums that are inflamed due to bacteria from plaque or tartar surrounding their teeth and gums. You may also be in the early stages of gum disease known as gingivitis. Assuming your condition is not too severe, flossing will help you reverse these problems but you will suffer a bit in the interim.
However, it is not normal if your gums are perpetually inflamed or tender with daily flossing. It is possible you may be flossing improperly, and the next section will cover this in more detail. If your situation has not improved after two to three weeks of consistent flossing then you should consider scheduling an appointment with your dentist.
With that said, many people make the mistake of giving up at the first sign of pain or bleeding. The second something goes wrong, they decide they won’t try again until several days or weeks later. If you don’t make flossing a habit, then your gums will never be cleaned properly, which means they will remain inflamed and will hurt if you take too long to floss again.
Common Flossing Mistakes that Cause Lingering Pain After Flossing
Flossing Too Hard
We get it, you really want to get rid of the plaque and food bits stuck between your teeth. It’s also great that you’re getting into the habit of flossing. Enthusiasm is a good thing! However, there is such a thing as flossing too hard.
If you are just jamming the dental floss straight up and down between your teeth, then you may be damaging your gums. Instead, apply a firm but controlled downward force along both sides of your teeth. Then lift the floss slowly, making sure to rub against your teeth on the way up, and down again, remembering to clean the side of your teeth on the way down and stopping gently on your gums.
Using the Same Section of Floss
Each time you floss between a pair of teeth, you should be using a new section of the dental floss to floss with. Otherwise, you are just spreading the bacteria and plaque from the previous pair of teeth to a new area.
In other words, you are not flossing as effectively as you could be, and your gums may still be inflamed due to the presence of bacteria and plaque. And inflamed gums are sensitive gums that bleed and hurt when you floss them.
It is best to start from one quadrant of your mouth, flossing between each pair of teeth in sequence before moving onto the next quadrant. You could start from the top left quadrant, flossing across the top row of teeth to the top right quadrant, before moving on to the bottom left quadrant and moving across the bottom row of your teeth to the bottom right quadrant.
Some people are very lackadaisical about their method and floss random teeth, often forgetting to floss some at all and flossing others multiple times. This means the areas that have not been cleaned are probably still inflamed, while the other areas have been cleaned too hard and may be bleeding because of it. Make sure you are paying attention to which teeth you have cleaned and floss in a logical order.
Should You See Your Dentist?
For most people, experiencing bleeding and lingering pain after flossing is normal because they are just getting started. It should eventually stop after a week or two of daily flossing. Also make sure you are avoiding the common mistakes that beginners make that lead to bleeding and lingering pain.
If you are still experiencing pain after following the above advice, then see your dentist as soon as possible. You may be suffering from an advanced stage of gingivitis and will require the help of your dentist.