Flossing is one of the basic oral hygiene practices that people should have if they want to avoid oral health diseases. The CDC, Surgeon General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services all reaffirm the effectiveness of flossing. If you don’t currently floss, consider picking up the habit. For patients that do floss, there is proper technique and guidelines for flossing correctly.
Facts About Flossing
Flossing is something every dentist asks about but that not enough patients actually do, even though flossing is vital for cleaning 40% of your tooth surfaces that brushing can’t reach.
- Floss can be both waxed` and unwaxed. With unwaxed floss, you can actually hear a squeak against your teeth when they are all the way clean.
- When you floss your teeth and your gums bleed, it’s a sign of gingivitis, which is an early sign of gum disease. To reduce your risk for gum disease and to help get rid of gingivitis, make sure you floss and brush several times a day.
- You can floss both before or after brushing. However, fluoride products may work better to protect between your teeth if you floss before brushing. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
- For those who floss regularly and properly, they use about 122 yards of floss each year.
- Colgate reports that 20% of Americans never floss their teeth. They also report that only 4 in 10 Americans floss each day.
- There are upwards of 500 different types of bacteria in the human mouth, which can all turn into plaque, which decays the teeth. That’s why it’s so important to floss your teeth along with brushing.
There Is a Proper Technique
Reducing your risk for oral health diseases is quite easy. Brushing and flossing correctly and daily eliminates most of your risk. Make sure you brush your teeth with ADA-approved toothpaste at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Brush after every meal if you want to reduce plaque buildup, which is the leading cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque forms from your mouth bacteria mixing with sugars in your foods and drinks, which forms an acidic substance that destroys them. Good brushing isn’t complete without flossing afterwards like this:
- Every time you floss, get about 18 inches of new, clean floss. Don’t reuse floss, as bacteria can stay on your floss and then get deposited in between your teeth the next time you floss. This accelerates tooth decay.
- Wind the floss around either your two middle fingers or pointer fingers on your hands, leaving about 1-2 inches of space to floss with.
- Pull the floss taught as you pass it through the areas between your teeth. Make sure to move floss up into the gum line—or the triangular gum area between the teeth—until the floss naturally stops.
- As you pull the floss down, make sure to gently scrape your teeth as the floss moves down. This gets stuck-on plaque to come off easier.
- Only use floss to floss the teeth. Floss is made from either nylon or teflon, which makes it strong and effective for removing food and plaque, but soft enough that it doesn’t harm your teeth or gums.
The American Dental Association reports that sometimes, patients will use random objects to floss or to try to dislodge food particles from their teeth. 42% of people surveyed who do this, have reported dental injuries or pain. Always stick to using floss when it comes to removing particles from the teeth.
How Else Can You Clean Between Teeth?
Some patients may need additional tools for effective in-between-teeth cleaning. Flossing isn’t the only habit you can have to dislodge stuck food, even though it is the most effective. An interdental brush is also an effective tool to clean between the teeth. This is a small hand-held cleaning tool that has a small brush at the end of it, that can be a centimeter to an inch long.
This brush is small enough to fit between the small cracks of your teeth, especially where your gums meet the teeth. You want to make sure you buy a interdental brush that is small instead of using brushes that look similar, but are larger. The brush should easily pass through your teeth instead of feeling like you are wedging something into the space. You bend the brush at a 90-degree angle when brushing behind your teeth in between the spaces. A 90-degree angle or having the brush straight are both suitable for passing the brush through the front of your teeth.
For people with braces, brackets and wires may make it difficult to dislodge food that becomes stuck between the teeth and in the appliances. Choosing transparent aligners for your orthodontic treatment can eliminate this difficulty. However, most people have traditional metal, ceramic or lingual braces on their teeth. Use a proxabrush (which is like a tiny Christmas tree brush) to dislodge particles in the brackets. Using a waterpik tool, you can actually shoot water between the teeth to get food out. This is great for the large spaces that can be present with dental implants.
The ADA reports that “interdental cleaners such as floss are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” They don’t mean just doing it here and there. Make sure you are flossing your teeth each and every day, 1-2 times a day. This is especially important at night, as plaque and food particles can decay the teeth for all your sleeping hours when proper brushing and flossing doesn’t happen.
If you need to see how to properly brush your teeth, do what you can now with the information we provided. You can always come into our office to see a demonstration on your specific teeth if you have orthodontic treatment, dental implants or other dental work. To schedule your next cleaning or to have your flossing questions answered, call Dr. Evanson’s office today at (720) 409-0008!
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