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What to Try If Flossing Your Teeth Isn't Working for You

Father And Son Flossing Their Teeth
Although dentists urge their patients to floss daily, many don't do it for one reason or another. You might neglect flossing because you're too busy, but it's much more likely that a specific deterrent is coming into play, such as braces or shaking hands. Here are some things to try out if traditional methods and materials for flossing don't work for you.

If You're Wearing Braces

You may need to use a combination of several different types of adaptations if you have trouble because of braces or a retainer. Interdental brushes, floss threaders, and other variations may help you to reach most of the spots that traditional floss can't get to. Of course, switching between tools to poke around your braces makes the process trickier.
The more complex flossing gets, the more difficulty you may have in motivating yourself to stick with it. If that's the case, talk to your dentist about using a water flosser daily and just flossing a few times per week. Water flossing can help reduce the time and effort it takes to keep your teeth clean.

If Your Gums Are Sensitive or Inflamed

Inflamed gums are typically a sign of gum disease. Your dentist may say that you need to floss more often because your gums aren't healthy. However, if flossing irritates your inflamed gums so much that they hurt more and more each day even after you've done a fair trial of flossing daily for several weeks, you may need to make a change.
Irritating your gums more and more isn't going to help them, and may just make them recede faster. You need to give your mouth more time to heal. Consider flossing every other day at first and then slowly working your way up as your gums get used to it. You can also alternate with a water flosser to reduce wear and tear while your gums heal.

If Your Teeth Are Tightly Spaced

Even using gentler floss isn't going to help if you have to push extremely hard to get the floss in at each juncture. The gums are still going to be irritated if you use that much force. And shredded bits of floss getting stuck between your teeth can be counterproductive as well. If this sounds like you, water flossing may be a great help.
You can switch between traditional flossing and water flossing on alternate days so that your gum irritation doesn't build up as much. Or if it's bad enough that you can't use floss at all, talk to your dentist; even using a water flosser exclusively may be better than nothing. Just be sure to perform your water flossing correctly and do it on a daily basis for best results.

If Physical Dexterity Is an Issue

Many individuals have a hard time opening their jaw far enough to reach to the back of their mouth, or have a hard time maneuvering their hands inside their mouths to make the small motions that good flossing technique requires. If this sounds like you, you might want to try a floss pick or an electric flosser. 
These tools allow you to hold the floss more like a toothbrush rather than wrapping it around your fingers, and they often have handles long enough to let you get the job done without sticking your hand in your mouth at all.

If You Just Don't Have Time

If you literally can't spare an extra three to five minutes on flossing your teeth each morning, you could try keeping floss picks in your car and flossing on your commute. Or you could install a water flosser attachment in your shower, so you can clean your mouth out while rinsing your hair.
A water flosser in the shower can be even more convenient than a typical water flosser. You never have to fill it up, and you don't even have to adjust the temperature. 
These adaptations and alternatives to traditional string flossing materials and techniques can help many individuals keep their teeth cleaner between dental visits. Call today to make an appointment with Michael J. Wallace, DDS LLC, if your next six-month cleaning is due.