To floss or not to floss?March 10, 2020 11:32 am
We’ve all heard the familiar mantra at the dentist: brush your teeth twice a day, and for adults and older children, floss regularly. So why is flossing teeth so important, and are there any alternatives?
- What Is floss exactly?
Dental floss is a thin thread that cleans the spaces between teeth. Without flossing, you’re leaving areas of your teeth uncleaned. Interdental brushes are a newer and popular alternative that performs a similar task. For both, there are many different varieties available – and it can be confusing!
- Why do I need it?
Brushing your teeth with a toothbrush and paste is a vital part of a daily dental hygiene routine – but it isn’t the only part. Flossing teeth, or using interdental brushes, cleans the tooth surface areas that your toothbrush isn’t able to get to. By removing food debris from between teeth and rubbing that hard-to-reach tooth surface, you’re cleaning away more plaque, bacteria, and bacteria’s food sources. Over time, that means bacteria are less able to thrive in the mouth – producing less acid and plaque, and generally improving the health of your teeth and gums.
- How to floss
Don’t be too enthusiastic – be firm but careful. Use enough floss to wind some extra around each hand, so you can manoeuvre easily. Guide the floss between your teeth – don’t force it – and when it gets to your gum, curve it around a tooth. Use the curve to scrap the side of the tooth and move the floss around – many people don’t realise this is a vital part of flossing teeth! This oral hygiene activity isn’t just for removing food debris. Do the same for all teeth, not forgetting the back. A little bleeding is normal, but if that persists past a few days, you should let your dentist know. Likewise, it’s the same for interdental brushes.
- What about interdental brushes?
These are small brushes with lots of bristles on them. You should wiggle the brush between each tooth, but don’t push too hard. Interdental brushes can work really well if you have the space between your teeth – if not, then floss can help instead. It’s best to avoid toothpicks as they can damage gums, potentially leading to infection.
- How often – and when?
It’s ideal to brush or floss every day – but perhaps not so realistic! Aim for as often as possible, for best oral hygiene. The more you do it, the happier your dentist will be. They will be able to notice, too. Doing it in the evening before you go to bed is best, so you clean away all the detritus of the day. There are different schools of wisdom on whether it’s best to floss before or after brushing your teeth. Our view is that, as long as you’re doing both, it doesn’t matter too much which order you do it in!
- Take care
It is possible to damage gums while flossing, so be gentle, as inflamed gums can lead to other problems. You can also damage dental work if you’re not paying attention. Dental bridges and orthodontic braces need special attention and a little extra effort. If you need any help, you can always consult your dentist in Dubai such as at Drs. Nicolas & Asp for help.
- What kinds should I choose?
Interdental brushes are recommended but can be fiddly to use. If you’re struggling, you may need to use more than one size. If that doesn’t work, particularly if your teeth are close together, then flossing may be a better idea. Waxed floss is often more comfortable, and if your teeth are very tightly packed, thin and shred-resistant floss is a good idea. Dental tape is thicker and can be more effective for those with bigger gaps between their teeth – for example, if you have receding gums.
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