An important part of your oral care includes a daily routine of brushing your teeth, rinsing with mouthwash and flossing. While you may have not noticed much discomfort with brushing or rinsing alone, irritation with flossing is a common concern. The American Dental Association considers flossing an essential part of oral care. Flossing can bring attention to your sensitive gums and you may even notice your teeth bleed when flossing. Pain from flossing can be a common problem, but it is important that this kind of pain is not ignored. It is also important that we do not stop flossing because of the pain. In fact, to stop flossing can often make the problem worse! There are many causes for pain with flossing:


New to Flossing


If flossing is something new to your daily oral health routine, it may take time for your gums to get used to the flossing. Be sure to stick with it and be consistent. Your gums will build up tolerance and your mouth will be healthier for it.


Flossing Technique


The most common cause of pain from flossing is improper flossing technique. Especially, new flossers may spend too much time prodding the gum with the floss that can cause gum damage and irritation. Another issue is using too much downward pressure to force the floss between the teeth. Flossing should be a slow and gentle action in order to avoid irritating, damaging, or even cutting the gums. Come see the dentists at Danville Family Dentistry for tips and guidance on how to properly floss your teeth and keep them healthy.


Close Teeth


If your teeth are very close together, you may have a challenge getting the floss down between them without force. This could be more common from those who have had orthodontic care. In these cases you might consider some sort of water pik or similar device to help you remove debris without causing gum damage.




If you already have sensitive teeth, flossing, and even brushing, can cause pain. There are many reasons for tooth sensitivity including gum disease, tooth decay, nerve exposure, loose fillings or devices, or damaged enamel. Often this sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, will also cause pain with hot or cold food or liquids. You will need to consult your dentist, or call us at Danville Family Dentistry, to determine the underlying cause of the sensitivity and develop a plan to relieve it. You can also purchase special tooth care products, such as toothpaste, specifically designed for tooth sensitivity.




If you have pain from flossing in one particular spot, the chances are, there is some tooth decay on that tooth. If your pain continues or gets worse, you should see your dentist. Taking proper care of the decay should alleviate the pain, and continued flossing should help prevent more decay.


Gum Disease


Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or gingivitis, can cause a lot of problems for your dental health, including sensitivity and pain. Often plaque built up beneath the gum line is a cause for gum disease. In these cases, even though it can be painful, continuing to floss daily can often help alleviate the problem by reducing this plaque. You can also talk to your dentist about other ways to help remove this excess plaque and other treatments such as deep cleaning to get your gums healthy again.


Flossing is an essential part of good oral hygiene but we don’t want it to cause pain. Keep at it and keep being consistent, and if it continues to be painful come see us at Danville Family Dentistry and we can help!


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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.