By Last Updated: January 2, 2024

Flossing is an integral part of your daily routine. Proper flossing effectively removes plaque, food particles, bacteria, and other debris between the teeth, an area that cannot be cleaned with just toothbrushing.

Flossing ensures the whole mouth is clean, preventing dental diseases such as decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

Unfortunately, many patients still do not understand the importance of flossing. Some find adding it to their usual oral hygiene routine tedious or difficult. Meanwhile, others complain of pain or discomfort when flossing, so they opt not to do it.

But with the proper technique, flossing should not at all be painful. Once you get the hang of it, flossing becomes easier and can greatly benefit your oral health in the long run.

Potential Causes of Gum Pain When Flossing

One of the difficulties patients face when flossing is discomfort or pain. If you are one of those who have this problem, you may be wondering “Why do my gums hurt when I floss?” Here are some possible reasons:

You may be flossing incorrectly…

Poor flossing technique may lead to pain, especially if the floss is pushed too hard against the teeth or gums. Here’s how to correctly floss to ensure that the process is gentle yet effective:

  1. Measure a forearm’s length of dental floss.
  2. Hold the floss taut with your thumb and index finger. Leave a few inches in the center for your teeth.
  3. Place the thread between two teeth and gently glide it down, rubbing against both sides of each tooth.
  4. As you reach down the gums, curve the floss in a C-manner against the base of the tooth. This cleans the space between the tooth and the gums.
  5. Repeat these steps for all teeth and use a clean section as you move to another section.

Maybe you are flossing too harshly…

The floss thread should not be forced down to the gums. Avoid gliding it into the gums as well. This can cause discomfort as it can scratch or bruise your gums. Remember that cleaning the sides of the teeth should be the main focus of flossing, not cleaning or damaging your gums!

The type of floss you are using can also be a factor…

If you have tooth crowding or other dental concerns, a specific type of floss may be more suitable for improved comfort during flossing. Crowding of teeth means the spaces are too tight, so a thinner floss is ideal. This helps with easier insertion of the thread between your teeth.

For dental concerns such as braces, using an interdental brush to floss can help make flossing an easy and smooth task.

There is the presence of dental diseases like gum disease.

Gum disease is the inflammation of the gums due to irritants such as plaque, bacteria, and food debris. This results in sensitive gums that easily bleed. If you feel pain during flossing and you feel tenderness in your gums, it may be because of gum disease.

Urgent treatment is important to reverse gum disease. This can be done through professional teeth cleaning and proper at-home oral hygiene care.

Periodontal disease may also cause pain when flossing.

Untreated gum disease will eventually result in periodontal disease. This is an irreversible infection involving the gums and the bones surrounding the tooth. This type of dental disease can also cause pain when flossing, especially if significant damage is involved.

Teeth misalignment can cause flossing issues.

Tight spaces between the teeth due to crowding may cause difficulty with flossing. So, your dentist may recommend a thinner type of dental floss to make it easier. This avoids putting too much pressure in inserting the floss which can cause scratches on the gums.

Another option to consider is waterflossing. This approach to flossing uses water pressure to clean those hard-to-floss areas. Waterflossing is also gentle to the gums, preventing discomfort during use.

Gum inflammation from medications or medical conditions may cause flossing discomfort.

Gum swelling can also be caused by certain conditions such as pregnancy or vitamin deficiencies. Some medications for hypertension and seizures also have gum inflammation as their side effect.

These are prone to tender gums that are sensitive even with the slightest force. So, flossing can be a bit difficult for patients in this situation.

Check on your existing tooth restoration or other dental work…

Overhanging dental fillings and extended dentures and orthodontic wires are some dental works that can irritate the gums. This can already be uncomfortable on its own but can be further triggered whenever you floss.

If you have problems with your existing dental work or appliance, schedule an appointment with your dentist for repair to prevent further problems.

When to Consult a Dentist

The bottom line is that flossing should not be painful. If there is any discomfort, it should be very minimal and tolerable. So, if you feel any pain whenever you floss, it may be because of underlying factors such as gum or periodontal disease.

Ultimately, the best time to consult your dentist for your flossing concerns is as soon as possible. Your dentist can assess what the problem is and provide proper treatment to resolve the pain. They can also discuss how painless and proper flossing should be done.

Overcoming Gum Pain While Flossing

But if you cannot visit your dentist just yet, here are some tips for you to reduce or eliminate gum pain:

  • Revisit your flossing techniques

Most of the time, pain during flossing can be blamed on how you floss. Learn and apply the proper flossing method to prevent pain as you get used to routine flossing.

  • Reinforce your oral hygiene

Gum disease can be reversed with good oral hygiene. This eliminates discomfort attributed to swelling gums. Use fluoride-rich toothpaste and try an antibacterial mouthwash to improve gum health.

  • Find the right floss for you

Improve your flossing experience by using the best type of floss for your dental concern. Try a thinner floss if you have tight spaces between your teeth!

  • Get the hang of it!

Lastly, some may find it painful because they are just not used to it. Start the flossing journey now, be consistent, and see how you get more accustomed and comfortable to it.

Need help with your flossing? Our dental team can help! Learn more about the proper flossing technique to improve and maintain your oral hygiene by booking your appointment with us at Midpark Dental today.