It’s the question every dentist asks: “Do you floss daily?” Unfortunately, for many of us, the answer is no. Adding another step to your oral hygiene routine might seem like a hassle, but there are big benefits to making sure that you take your dentist’s advice and add flossing to your oral care routine. Gum disease begins at the gum line and between teeth. Daily flossing is an important part of helping remove the plaque from these areas where a toothbrush doesn’t completely reach. Even though you’ve been brushing and flossing our teeth for years and years, you may be surprised to learn you aren’t doing it properly. To truly reap the benefits of flossing, you need to use proper technique. We dive into the importance of flossing and the right way to get it done.
What is the importance of flossing?
Flossing dislodges food particles trapped between the teeth and under the gums where toothbrushes can’t reach. Imagine that the spaces between your teeth are like your kitchen floor. It gets dirty, but regular sweeping and mopping help keep it clean. Unfortunately, the longer you neglect them, the more buildup forms and the harder it is to clean. That’s what happens when you skip flossing: the spaces between your teeth gather plaque, making it harder and harder to keep them clean. When left unchecked, bacterial buildup can lead to cavities, bad breath, and gum disease.
What is the Right Way to Floss?
Proper flossing removes plaque and food particles which is important to your oral health. Because plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, daily flossing is highly recommended. To receive maximum benefits from flossing, use the following proper technique:
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap or force the floss into the gums, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, then, gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.
- Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
- To remove the floss, use the same gentle rubbing motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth.
- Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and could leave bacteria behind in your mouth.
What are the types of floss?
The first step in banishing plaque from the tight spaces between your teeth is finding a product that you like and will use every day without fail. There are two types of floss from which to choose: nylon (or multifilament) floss or PTFE (monofilament) floss. Nylon floss is available waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavors. Because this type of floss is composed of many strands of nylon, it may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points. While being more expensive, single filament (PTFE) floss slides easily between teeth, even those with tight spaces between teeth, and is virtually shred-resistant. When used properly, both types of floss are excellent at removing plaque and debris. The important thing to remember with floss, is that you choose a product with the ADA seal. That means the product has been endorsed by the ADA and verified to be safe and effective.
How do I make sure not to forget?
Even if you have the floss and know how to use it, you might still find yourself forgetting to clean between your teeth after you brush. You can try a few different techniques to see if it helps trigger your memory. It’s important to know that it doesn’t matter if you floss before or after brushing. A good trick to remember is to keep your floss where you’ll see it, like next to your toothbrush. That way, when you brush your teeth, you’ll remember to floss as well. Another thing about floss is that the best time of day to floss is whenever it fits best in your schedule! The trick is to make sure that, like brushing, you floss every day prior to going to bed. If you don’t like a brand of floss, don’t be afraid to shop around to find a size, shape and flavor that you like. Your dentist can likely give you samples if you don’t want to buy a new box just for a test drive. Flossing is just as important as brushing; that’s why your dentist always asks if it’s part of your oral hygiene routine. All it takes it a few extra minutes.
Your gums and teeth will thank you! If you have any questions about flossing, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist – 716-332-2444.