Toothpicks are No Substitute for Floss!

Some people like to use a good toothpick or similar pick-like device to clean out between their teeth. However, there is really no substitute for a proper string of floss.

While toothpicks are good for extracting a corn husk or piece of spinach after a meal, they’re just not built to do the job of floss. Floss lets you get all the way into the gap between your teeth, which is the only way to reliably clear away plaque and detritus that has gathered there. Trying to force a pick to go where your floss is meant to go only risks of spearing your gums or even splintering the pick, leaving irritating bits of wood amid your fragile tissues. The length of the floss also lets you cycle in a fresh bit of thread with every tooth, while a toothpick forces you to use the same plaque-stained tip for every gap between teeth.

Our Issaquah dentist recommends that you always get your daily flossing in, and never try to use a toothpick in its place. Consult Meadow Creek dental for more information on proper oral hygiene.

Should I Stop Flossing When My Gums Hurt?

Does it hurt when you try to floss between your teeth? It is not uncommon for people to report that their gums become irritated during the course of normal flossing, and that they even experience some degree of bleeding. When this happens, it can be easy to assume that there is something wrong, and that you should stop flossing. However, this is generally not a good tactic.

For most people, discontinuing your flossing habit is the very last thing you want to do. Their problem is often that they do not floss enough. If your gums are unaccustomed to daily flossing, they become fragile and are all the more vulnerable when it you finally get around to cleaning out between your teeth. In such cases, you will want to muscle through the pain until your gums become strong enough to handle normal flossing again.

Of course, it is entirely possible that you have a problem unrelated to your flossing habit that is causing your gum pain. Should you experience any tenderness, bleeding, or swelling in your gums that you cannot quite account for, talk to our Issaquah dentist to explore the possible causes.

Building Good Flossing Habits

Flossing may be a difficult habit to develop, but it’s one that our Issaquah dentist strongly advises. Good flossing is in many ways more important even than brushing in terms of maintaining a clean mouth, as much of the surface of your teeth is out of the reach of your brush. If you need a refresher course on how to floss, try following these simple steps:

  • First, pick a floss that works for you. Some people have narrower gaps between their teeth, for example, and need a narrower floss.
  • Floss at least once a day, preferably before your final brushing before going to sleep.
  • Use a length of floss about as long as your forearm (or around eighteen inches). You should then wind either end around your index fingers such that you’re holding about two inches between your hands. Unwind from one finger and wind up on the other as you go, giving yourself a clean piece of floss for every tooth.
  • Begin flossing, gently maneuvering the string into the space between your teeth and between your back teeth and gums. Make sure that you get both edges of all teeth, pulling the floss into a “V” shape against either surface as you go.
  • Take care with your gums! If you routinely draw blood, it might be because you’re sawing at your delicate tissues.