Does It Hurt When You Floss?

It’s not uncommon for a person to experience some discomfort after flossing — especially if they aren’t a regular flosser.

If your teeth or gums hurt after a flossing the main cause may be how often you floss. If you only pull out the dental floss when you’ve got something stuck in your teeth, you probably aren’t flossing often enough. Regular flossing helps clear bacteria out from between your teeth and away from your gums — this can help prevent the development of gum disease.

Another problem may be HOW you floss. If you’re too rough — snapping the floss down between your teeth or digging the floss into your gums — you can hurt yourself. Use gentle pressure and a seesawing motion to work the dental floss down between your teeth and out again. Don’t force the floss between your teeth; you could end up yanking the floss down hard enough to cut your gums.

The type of floss may be causing you discomfort, too. If your teeth are very close together, you may need to use an extra-thin type of dental floss. For teeth that have wide spaces, dental tape may work better than dental floss for cleaning. Check the local pharmacy for all the different options — you may have an easier time with waxed floss as opposed to unwaxed dental floss, or you may find a flavor you love.

If your discomfort after flossing is hard to tolerate, you can take an over the counter pain reliever like ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can also try rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to soothe any irritation from flossing.

Lingering tooth or gum pain is generally not a good sign. You may want to schedule a visit to the dentist and get checked for gum disease. Some symptoms of gum disease (gingivitis) can include:

  • Redness, tenderness, and swelling of the gums
  • Bleeding during brushing or flossing