It’s great that you are already brushing your teeth twice a day. This is an important part of your oral hygiene regimen. Equally important, however, is flossing. Brushing only attacks the bacteria and particles that are easy to reach and remove. This bacteria, in concert with saliva and food particles, creates plaque, a gummy but clear and colorless substance that sticks to your teeth. In plaque the bacteria finds a fertile environment to start the process of tooth decay that can eventually turn into cavities.
This is why flossing is crucial. Flossing scrapes away the plaque that your toothbrush can’t reach in places such as in between your teeth. However, it’s important that you are flossing correctly. If not, you may be spending the time and effort without seeing the results. Flossing may be the difference that helps you avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that could become necessary due to unchecked tooth decay.
How to Floss
- Wrap a length of floss about eighteen inches long around your middle fingers. You will then use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. Be sure to wind more around one middle finger finger than the other so you can twist the dirty used floss toward the finger with less floss and unspool a fresh length from the other.
- Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” motion, back and forth, all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they emerge from your gums.
- Wrap one side of the floss around each tooth, making a “U” shape then gently slide up and down your tooth. Repeat this a few times, making sure to get slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. This should be repeated for every tooth.
- Again be sure to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss.
Things to Know
Some people like to use floss picks. These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” can make flossing easier. Although using these is preferable to not flossing at all, dentists would prefer you use a length of “free” floss and your hands. Floss picks are at a disadvantage when it comes to proper flossing as you cannot wrap them around a tooth in the “U” shape recommended above because of how it is already strung in a straight line.
A product known as “super floss” is also available. This thick and fuzzy floss can be used to floss between teeth with extra space in between them. For teeth with only tight spaces between them, squeezing even regular floss in between can be cumbersome. The strand can become stuck, shred or even break in these tight spaces. These experiences can be frustrating and lead to some people choosing not to floss at all. For these case, waxed floss is also available to help you slip into those tight spaces between your teeth.
Whatever kind of floss you choose, you need to make sure that it is American Dental Association approved to be safe for use. You should only use a length of floss once. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can linger and make you sick if reintroduced to your mouth later.
Research recommends flossing after your brush as the plaque and food particles will already be reduced, allowing the floss to clear away what is left. If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 910.420.3670 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Clement or Dr. Kamron Monroe today.