Dental Procedure Pain: Get the Facts

Troubleshooting Why Your Gums Hurt When You Try To Floss

Flossing is a good habit that everyone should follow, even though many people don't. However, starting to floss is often riddled with problems for a lot of people. When you first start flossing, you might discover that trying to do so hurts or makes your gums feel sensitive. Here are a few potential causes for this problem and how you can improve the discomfort you're experiencing by changing the way you care for your gums.

Being Too Rough

One of the biggest difficulties people have when trying to perform standard oral hygiene at home is being too rough with themselves. Both brushing and flossing are actually best performed when you're gentle, as using too much pressure or force can cause discomfort or even damage.

If you're pulling your floss between your teeth, try to go a little slower. This should help to prevent the floss from hitting your gums at a high speed, which can be quite painful. Make an effort to glide your floss across the teeth and up to the gum line, rather than yanking it through. This may also help to reduce the amount of bleeding you experience when you first start flossing.


Another potential problem is that your gums are inflamed. It's quite common, especially if you've never flossed before and haven't seen a dentist for a while.

While it seems like a good idea to start flossing just before you visit your dentist, or anytime when it's been a while since you've been in the office, it could be that your gums are actively infected. Gum infections like gingivitis and periodontitis are long-lasting conditions that can lead the tissues of your gums to be sensitive, swollen, or prone to bleeding. While flossing can help with the early stages of gum disease, it can make it difficult or painful to do so. Consider visiting a dentist to have your gums examined and to get treatment if you have gum disease before beginning your flossing at home.


Lastly, tartar could be causing some discomfort for you when you try to floss.

Tartar is often seen as a problem that causes cavities, but that's not all. Once a layer of tartar forms, nothing can get it off except for a dentist. However, in the meantime, tartar can act like the sticky side of a bandage on anything it touches. When you try to push the floss through, it can get stuck on tartar, increasing your risk of accidentally hitting your gums with the floss at full-speed, as discussed in the first tip. However, even if you're not hitting your gums, pulling on the tartar in any way with the floss may cause your gums to hurt, as the gum tissue that's coated in tartar will be pulled or pushed on, too.

In cases like these, it's best to see a dentist for help first. Once the tartar has been cleared away with a professional cleaning, you'll find that flossing to keep things the way that they are is a lot easier and more comfortable.

Flossing is a great way to care for your oral health, but if your gums are already experiencing health issues due to gum disease or long-term oral hygiene neglect, you'll need to see a dentist for help.