Did you know that almost 50% of U.S. adults over 30 have gum disease, according to the CDC? Gum infections damage tissues and can cause tooth and bone loss.

Not flossing enough is a major cause of periodontal disease. But flossing improperly can cause major problems, too. The dental professionals at the Center for Advanced Dentistry in San Jose, CA, want you to have healthy gums and teeth. Here’s what you should know about flossing properly.

Why floss?

Brushing isn’t enough to ensure you have a healthy mouth. The American Dental Association says flossing is an important part of taking care of your teeth. Flossing cleans the areas between your teeth in places that your toothbrush can’t reach.

Debris between teeth form a soft film of bacteria, called plaque, that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Flossing dislodges pieces of food that can form plaque. Flossing also helps remove plaque after it has developed.

Here are common flossing mistakes and their cures:

Flossing only teeth

Poor flossing can do more harm than good.

Remember to floss your teeth — not your gums. When flossing, don’t pull the floss straight down onto the gums, which can damage gum tissue.

Don’t insert the floss between your teeth and pull straight out with a snapping motion. Instead, form a C shape with the floss and draw it snugly around a tooth. Slide the floss up and down to clean the plaque and food debris away from the tooth.

Forgetting to clean gums

In addition to moving the floss up and down on the surface of your tooth, you must also clean under the line of your gum. Keeping the floss firmly against the side of your tooth, move the floss just under the gum line on both sides of each tooth. This movement will remove debris.

Quitting when you see blood

If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, you’re not flossing or brushing enough. Bleeding is most likely the result of a buildup of plaque that inflames gums and makes them bleed.

As you begin to floss regularly and correctly, your gum health should improve and bleeding will lessen.

Using the same part of the string when flossing

Most people don’t realize they should use a new section of floss for each area of your mouth. Using the same floss throughout your mouth can spread bacteria from one area to the other. Also, floss usually thins during use and can get stuck more easily as you work throughout your mouth.

Use a string of floss about 18 inches long, which will give you enough floss to get the job done right.

Taking shortcuts

We’re all short of time. But you shouldn’t try to save time by taking flossing shortcuts, like weaving floss between multiple teeth at one time.

If you’d like to learn more about good dental hygiene, schedule an appointment by calling our office at 408-498-9082, or by using our online booking tool.

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Our team is ready to give you your best smile. From routine cleanings to full mouth restorations, we offer the best treatment plans for each patient.