Flossing. We can almost hear the moans and groans, but we’re going to move past that and continue on our mission to remind you why flossing is important. Believe it or not, more than 500 bacterial species can be found in plaque – not all bad, but when combining certain bacteria with food debris, water and other elements, the buildup can contribute to disease, like gingivitis and periodontitis, in your teeth and gums. Also, did you know that every tooth has 5 surfaces? When you skip out on flossing, you miss cleaning a couple of these very important spaces.
The ADA reports that “interdental cleaners such as floss are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums. Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach. Interdental cleaning is proven to help remove debris between teeth that can contribute to plaque buildup.”
So why is it that many of us have an aversion to this word and this action? One of the main reasons is that, take a deep breath, you just may not be doing it right. But the good news is that we’re going to provide you with some tips that should make flossing your teeth more enjoyable. Okay, maybe that’s the wrong word; but at the very least, we think you’ll find flossing to be a different and more positive experience if you start applying these tips. And remember, it’s never too late to start!
- Size matters. So does strategy: We recommend using about 18 inches (1.5 feet) of dental floss. Wrapping the strand around your middle fingers gives you the most leverage as it allows you to use your forefingers and thumbs to dig in and do the real work.
- It’s about more than just wedging a thread: Yes, to start, you’ll want to gently slide the flossing thread between two teeth. Do note that if you haven’t flossed for a while, it’s common to experience bleeding until your gums are used to the routine again. Once you have the thread between your teeth, the main goal is to slide it against the tooth surface to really loosen up the debris living on your teeth. Make sure you get the adjacent tooth by rubbing the floss firmly up and down the side of it.
- So fresh and so clean, clean: Once you’ve finished a tooth, make sure that you’re unwinding your floss and treating each tooth with a fresh section. Curve each new section into a C-shape for the best angle and grip around each tooth. Lather, rinse, repeat. Wrong body part, similar method.
- It’s all in the wrists: Well, technically, the plaque is in the teeth. But the art of flossing involves some calculated wrist action. Make sure that when you remove the floss from between your teeth, you’re doing it in a gentle back-and-forth motion, up and away from your tooth.
- Floss before brushing: When you floss your teeth before brushing them, you loosen up the debris living in the depths of your teeth, gums and other spaces, which makes it easier to remove the unwanted particles from your mouth when brushing. This typically results in less plaque and, therefore, less of a chance of developing gum disease.
When we put it this way, it doesn’t seem so scary or time-consuming, does it? Developing the habit of flossing and incorporating it into your oral hygiene routine will not only leave you feeling fresher, but it’ll also make your mouth happier and your dentist extremely proud.