Everyone knows that in order to maintain and create good oral health, flossing is a must. But even if you have the willpower and consistency to do it, that doesn't mean that it's always the easiest thing. If you're having trouble with flossing because it's painful or uncomfortable for you, it's possible that one of these problems is causing issues for you. Here's what you should know.
Going Too Hard
One possibility is that you're being too rough with yourself while you're trying to floss. Like brushing, flossing requires a certain level of gentleness and delicacy in order to be performed correctly. When you draw floss between your teeth, try to pull it up slowly so that it doesn't hit your gums on the way there. Hitting your gums can cause inflammation and discomfort, even if your gums are healthy. From there, try to use a scooping motion in order to remove plaque and debris from between your teeth and under your gums. This is easier on your teeth and gums than using a sawing or up-and-down movement.
Of course, one possibility is that your gums aren't the healthiest that they could be right now. If you have gingivitis, it's possible for flossing to reverse this condition, though the later version of gum disease, periodontitis, isn't so lucky. In either case, though, having inflamed and infected gums can make it a lot more painful to floss. If you don't feel any relief within a few days of flossing, it's safe to assume that you have a later form of gum disease that isn't going to get better on its own. In this situation, the best thing you can do is to go to the dentist for a cleaning to knock the gum disease out, and then to start flossing regularly afterwards.
Another possibility is that you have too much plaque between your teeth. Floss can remove plaque, but if you haven't had a cleaning in a long time or haven't been flossing regularly previously, the plaque can harden into tartar. Tartar can't be removed with floss, and effectively takes up more space between your teeth, meaning that there's less space for the floss to get through. This can make it feel like the floss is forcing your teeth further apart when it's dragged through, and also increases the likelihood that you'll need to use more pressure and may hit your gums as a result. The good news is that a dental cleaning can get rid of the tartar and solve this problem for you.
Outside of technique problems, the most likely cause of pain while flossing is that you need to have your teeth and gums cleaned and healthy first. If you're having trouble maintaining a regular flossing habit, talk to a dentist that practices general dentistry and then return to your new habit.