Flossing and its importance to oral hygiene
Flossing… It’s as important as brushing.
After you’ve brushed the fronts, backs and tops of your teeth, you need to get between them – to get to areas beyond the reach of your toothbrush. Did you know if you don’t floss you’re leaving as much as 40% of your tooth surfaces untouched and uncleaned?
Interdental cleaning makes your teeth and gums feel clean because it reaches areas a toothbrush can’t reach. It also keeps your breath fresh and, more importantly, it can stop gum disease in its tracks. Besides keeping your gums healthy, flossing can also play a role in preventing tooth decay from developing in between your teeth.
How to floss
Take about 40cm of floss and loosely wrap most of it around each middle finger (wrapping more around one finger than the other) leaving an inch of floss in between.
With your thumbs and index fingers holding the floss taut, gently slide it down between your teeth, while being careful not to snap it down on your gums.
Curve the floss around each tooth in a ‘C’ shape and gently move it up and down the sides of each tooth, including under the gumline. Unroll a new section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
My gums bleed when I floss. Should I stop when this happens?
No. Don’t worry about your gums bleeding at first – this is quite common. It may be a sign that you have some form of gum disease. After a few days of flossing, the bleeding should stop, as your gums become healthier. If bleeding persists, consult your FirstBite dentist.
How long does it take for flossing to start paying off?
Flossing provides unmistakable benefits that start from day one. After flossing, your teeth and gums feel cleaner because the floss reaches areas your toothbrush can’t. Your breath will be fresher, and the health of your gums will improve.
So, if your dental floss is gathering dust on the bathroom shelf, why not pick it up and try again? Even if it feels awkward at first, keep practicing. Pretty soon, you’ll feel the difference and find that it becomes part of your daily routine.
What kind of floss is best?
While there are a number of different kinds of floss (waxed, unwaxed and flavoured), they are all designed to reach between the teeth and below the gum line to remove plaque. So use whatever type of floss you prefer. Some of the newer waxed flosses are easier to use: they are more shred-resistant and slide smoothly between the teeth.
If you have trouble holding or using floss, you may want to try a dental flossette. Once the flossette is inserted between the teeth, use the same method of flossing as above. Ask your dentist or hygienist to show you if you are unsure.
Flossing with braces and dental bridges
If you have braces or restorative dental work (such as a bridge) that interferes with normal flossing, you may want to try super floss. This floss has a stiffened end that allows it to be threaded in between your teeth or under bridgework.
I’ve never flossed before: is it too late to start?
Absolutely not. Whatever your age, interdental cleaning provides major benefits to your teeth and gums that you’ll notice right away — so the sooner you start, the better.
My teeth have wide gaps between them: do I still have to floss?
Even if you have widely spaced teeth, plaque still forms between them and below the gum line – areas your brush can’t reach.
When should my children start flossing?
Consult your dentist, but a good rule of thumb is when two teeth touch. This usually happens first with the back teeth. To begin with, you will have to floss their teeth for them, but they will eventually be able to do it for themselves.
Remember, the earlier you start flossing, the more likely it will become part of your daily routine. There’s no time like the present to help yourself to healthier teeth and gums!
When you think about it, ‘keeping clean in between’ simply finishes the job brushing starts. And, when you do a good job at home, you’ll find that your visits to the dentist become more pleasant and relaxing, too. So start taking some positive action, after all, you wouldn’t wash only part of your face, so why only partly clean your teeth?