How To Ease Into Flossing If It Hurts

Nearly everyone knows that flossing is recommended by dentists, but that doesn't mean that it's easy. If you've never flossed or rarely floss, trying to make it a habit can be difficult and painful. Unfortunately, the pain involved in flossing often scares away people who are trying to turn it into a habit, which means that their gums never get healthier. If you want to make flossing a habit but need to get past the pain it can cause, try these tips.

Start with a Water Flosser

Water flossers are very effective tools in removing plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the gums and between the teeth. Best of all, water flossers are extremely gentle and rarely cause any discomfort. Several studies have found that water flossers are just as effective as flossing at helping gums to heal from gingivitis. Some dentists are still uncertain if water flossing is a good replacement for standard flossing, so water flossing should only be a bridge between the two, not a complete stand-in.

Clean the Teeth, Not the Gums

Whether you use a water flosser or not, another good idea is to start out by just flossing between your teeth, instead of trying to floss under the gum line. Flossing beneath the gum line is a great way of removing plaque and bacteria that can cause infections, but if your gums aren't in a healthy state, trying to do so right off the bat could be extremely painful.

Instead, focus on removing debris and food from between your teeth. Stop the floss right at the top of your gums instead of going past them. This should help you to clean more thoroughly between your teeth when you brush, and it will remove the plaque and bacteria that "caps" your gums, which can cause inflammation.

Gently Start Beneath Gums

After following the above two steps, you can begin to gently floss underneath your gum line. When you start out, slowly and gently draw the floss down against one of your teeth, sliding it past the top of the gums. Pull the floss straight back up and leave it at that. You may experience some bleeding; this is normal if your gums aren't healthy. Repeat the process for each tooth, but avoid rigorous flossing or any sawing movements on your gums.

With time, these steps will gradually improve the condition of your gums while reducing the discomfort you need to endure every day. In time, your gums will be healthy enough for you to floss normally and that will make it easier to turn into a permanent habit. For more about this topic, talk with your periodontist.