Tooth pain after flossing can be a common problem. We have people coming to us and asking “Can Flossing Cause a Toothache?” There are many causes behind it, but this type of tooth pain mustn't be ignored. It’s also very important that you do not stop flossing just because your teeth begin to hurt afterward. In fact, failing to continue with your good oral hygiene practice could make the problem worse. While the causes of tooth pain after flossing can be varied, the three most common causes are discussed below.
Improper Flossing Technique
The most common cause of pain after flossing is improper technique. Many patients who are new to flossing spend too much time prodding the gums with dental floss, which can irritate the gums and cause damage. The same is true of using too much downward pressure to force the floss between teeth that are close together. Over time, this damage can build up and cause pain every time you floss and even when you brush your teeth. If this is happening to you, you may want to consider switching from traditional dental floss to a water pik or similar instrument instead. These devices can help remove any food debris and buildup from between your teeth using streams of water, which will not injure or damage your gums.
If you have sensitive teeth, this can cause pain both when you floss and when you brush. Tooth sensitivity may be brought on by tooth decay or gum disease. If you’re unsure of whether your teeth are truly sensitive, try to remember if you’ve had any pain when drinking hot or cold liquids. If you have, chances are your post-flossing pain has been brought on by tooth sensitivity. You will need to consult your dentist as soon as possible so the underlying cause of the sensitivity can be identified and treated before any more damage occurs.
The final common cause of tooth pain after flossing is gum disease. Gum disease can cause tooth sensitivity, as well as pain when brushing or flossing. This is usually caused by a buildup of plaque below the gum line. Though it hurts, continuing to floss can be a very effective treatment for the earliest stages of gum disease. You experience pain after flossing because you are beginning to clean and remove plaque from areas of the teeth and gums that weren’t exposed before. Continue to floss, but do so gently, taking care not to damage the gums. Talk to your dentist about other methods of treatment, such as a deep cleaning, which can remove the plaque buildup more quickly, and get you back to being healthy and pain-free once again.
While minor discomfort, swelling, or bleeding after flossing vigorously is common (especially if it’s been a while since you last flossed), significant pain is a red flag that can indicate improper flossing technique or more serious oral health problems. Therefore, if at any time you do experience significant gum pain, it’s best to seek advice from oral health professionals.
To get you started, this article will provide tips for proper flossing, so you can avoid unnecessary pain or discomfort.
Do Your Teeth Hurt After Flossing?
If your teeth and gums are healthy and you are flossing properly and according to your dentist’s instructions, you should not experience any pain. Therefore, if you notice sensitivity, bleeding, swelling, or discomfort after flossing, it’s a sign that you need to change something and/or seek professional help.
“Why Do My Teeth Hurt?”
There are several reasons your may be experiencing pain after flossing, including but not limited to:
- Infrequent or irregular flossing. This is a common culprit, as studies show only 30% of people in the United States floss daily, and 32% never floss.
- Improper flossing technique. The section below provides tips for proper, healthy flossing habits.
- More serious problems such as tooth sensitivity, gingivitis or gum disease, cavities, or damaged teeth.
While improper or irregular flossing is a more minor issue that can be fixed, tooth sensitivity, damaged teeth, and gum disease are much more serious and can indicate or lead to other oral health problems. Therefore, if the pain you’re feeling is significant or does not go away after changing your flossing habits, we’ll say it again: seek the advice of a professional dentist.
Steps for Gum Pain Relief
Overall, flossing regularly and properly is the best way to prevent gum pain. Below are some more specific tips and tricks you can try:
- First of all, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you’re flossing regularly. Ideally, you should floss once per day.
- Second, though this may seem obvious, you should use floss to floss between your teeth. One survey found that a majority of Americans had used other items to clean or remove food from between their teeth, including fingernails, paper, cutlery, safety pins, and even strands of hair. This is not only unsanitary but unsafe.
- While flossing your teeth, be gentle. You should avoid “snapping” the floss forcefully into place. Applying too much force can cause pain and damage your gums over time. Instead, slowly ease the floss between your teeth, at an angle if necessary.
- Take your time and don’t rush the flossing process. Overtime, rushed flossing can even lead to receding gums.
- Don’t forget to floss under the gum line, but again, do so gently and slowly to avoid gum bleeding or damage.
- Try a different brand of floss. If you’re still feeling discomfort, there are types of floss that come with a more soft and gentle coating.
- If these tips don’t work for you, talk to your dentist about alternative flossing methods, such as a water floss machine or water pick.
- Talk to a professional. Your dentist can provide you with more detailed information on proper flossing and answer any other questions you may have.