Can You Floss Too Much? The Answer Might Surprise You

Can You Floss Too Much?

We all know that flossing is an important part of oral hygiene. I’ll always remember my dentist telling me, you don’t need to floss all of your teeth, just the ones you want to keep. That silly saying has probably been used by dentists everywhere but it did put the fear in me as a small child to floss everyday to prevent all of my teeth from falling out.

But is it possible to floss too much? Flossing has become a bit of an addiction for me. The satisfaction of seeing all the gunk pulled out of your teeth. The feeling of a fresh, clean mouth after a deep floss. Twice a day, morning and night, is my normal routine but I often find myself wanting a mid-day floss, mostly due to the feeling of something stuck in between my teeth or honestly, out of sheer boredom.

There is a bit of concern brewing that flossing too much can damage the enamel, loosen teeth, or cause gum recedation. Is flossing more than once a day bad? Can you floss too much and if so, how often should you floss?

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The Importance of Flossing

Can You Floss Too Much

Not flossing enough is one of the main factors for oral health issues. Did you know only 41% of Americans floss daily? 20% of Americans reported they never floss, and the rest only floss occasionally. Flossing will help remove the plaque from between the teeth as well as below the gum line. Too much plaque build up can erode your tooth enamel and develop into tartar. Flossing daily helps reduce the risk of cavities and gingivitis. A lot of people who have chronic bad breath have not flossing daily to blame.

If you go a few days without flossing, the next time you floss there is a large amount of debris, left over food, and bacteria. Imagine never clearing the gunk between your teeth and under your gum line. The gunk will harden into plaque, dead bacteria will be stuck in between your teeth, and your breath will truly reflect it. A regularly flossing routine will also help prevent gum disease and keep your gums from being inflamed, swollen, or discolored.

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How Much Flossing is Too Much?

So how much flossing is too much? According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride tooth paste and floss once a day. All though the ADA doesn’t specify on what time of day you should floss or if you should floss before or after brushing, there has been recent studies showing that it may be marginally better to floss first before brushing with results of higher reduction of inter-dental plaque and increased fluoride concentration in inter-dental plaque.

Some people prefer to start their day with a totally clean mouth by flossing in the morning while others prefer to floss at night, clearing away all of the bacteria from the day. There also those who prefer to floss after every meal. As long as you are thoroughly cleaning your mouth and flossing regularly, the results will be positive.

Read: Improve your oral health with oil pulling (swishing oil around your mouth).

Risks of Flossing Too Much

While flossing is a completely healthy activity, there are risks and bad effects of flossing too much or flossing too vigorously. Over flossing can be particularly harmful to to your gums. Too much pressure on your gums can cause irritation, swelling, recedation, or even cause bleeding. While you may find reasons to floss more than once a day, and it won’t immediately cause damage, it should not be a regular habit.

Flossing too much may also destroy the gum line which will expose the teeth’s roots, causing more decay and cavities. If you’re flossing too hard it’s possible to wear through the tooth’s enamel which can lead to periodontal bone loss and cause loose teeth to fall out.

It’s also unnecessary to floss more than once a day. Plaque takes about 48 hours to harden onto your teeth. As long as you’re brushing twice daily and flossing once you should be able to remove all of the plaque film build up before it hardens. Flossing more than once a day doesn’t have real benefits unless of course there is something stuff in your teeth.

However, if you have braces or other dental appliances, you may need to floss more often. If you’re not sure how often you should be flossing, ask your dentist.

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The Best Way To Floss

It’s important to remember the goal of flossing is to remove plaque away from between your teeth. There is no reason or benefit to rub the floss deep into your gums. Try to not put any pressure on your gums at all when flossing. Make sure to push to plaque and other debris that’s in between your teeth in a motion away from the gums. So if you’re flossing your top teeth, push the plaque down and if you’re flossing your bottom teeth, move the plaque up and out of your teeth.

The harder you floss does not mean the cleaner your teeth will be. It’s important to remove all of the plaque off your teeth but to still remain gentle on your teeth and gums. Carefully clean and remove plaque, watching what you’re doing in the mirror instead of hastily sawing the floss in between your teeth.

It’s up to you whether you floss in the morning or night. Just make sure to floss once a day and then brush your teeth for 2 minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Another common mistake people make while brushing is to rinse immediately after. While you should spit out any excess toothpaste, it’s important to not rinse your mouth immediately after brushing as it’ll wash away all of the fluoride concentrated on your teeth.

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