What Does it Mean if Your Teeth Hurt After Flossing?

Boy opening mouth

Flossing is a good and necessary oral hygiene habit when done once a day, ideally before bedtime. Flossing removes food particles from between the teeth where your child’s toothbrush cannot reach and helps prevent cavities and gum disease.

If your child complains that their teeth hurt after flossing, this may be due to minor discomfort, swelling, or bleeding and can be common especially from vigorous or irregular flossing. However, significant tooth pain after flossing could indicate improper techniques or far more serious oral health issues, such as damaged teeth, tooth sensitivity, cavities, or gum disease, in which case it’s best to seek professional advice from a pediatric dentist.

Gum Pain Relief

Flossing regularly and correctly is an effective way to prevent cavities and gum pain. Depending on your child’s age, assist or show them the following steps:

  • Use soft and flexible floss or floss picks to avoid hurting your child’s teeth and gums. If your child’s teeth still hurt after flossing, speak to your pediatric dentist about other alternatives. 
  • Make sure to use a clean section of floss for every tooth.
  • Be gentle when flossing and avoid “snapping” the floss forcefully into place. Applying too much force can cause pain and damage to your child’s gums over time. Instead, slowly ease the floss between your teeth under the gum line, at an angle if necessary.
  • Don’t rush the flossing process, as this can even lead to receding gums over time.

Home Remedies to Reduce Pain and Swelling

Sick child

You can try certain methods at home to prevent and treat swollen gums if your child’s teeth hurt after flossing, and they cannot see a pediatric dentist right away. Try these simple ways to help ease pain and facial swelling:

  • Hold a cool pack on the outside of your child’s cheek for about 15 minutes at a time. Do not apply heat.
  • If your child’s pediatrician prescribed antibiotics, administer the full course as directed.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication should help with any swelling but be sure to confirm with your pediatrician first.
  • Don’t give your child very hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages if they complain of severe tooth pain after flossing.
  • To relieve pain and swelling, rinse your child’s mouth with warm salt water every 2 hours. 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 fluid ounces (250mL) of water should do the trick.
  • Talk to a pediatric dentist about what toothpaste your child can use if their teeth hurt after flossing. Use regularly or rub a small amount of the paste on the sensitive area with a clean finger 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Assist or show your child how to floss gently.

Handling All Your Child’s Dental Needs

For top-quality, compassionate pediatric care, contact Children’s Dentistry today. We will provide you with more detailed information on regular cleanings and proper flossing techniques, as well as answer any other questions you may have.

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