Why flossing mattersMarch 9, 2020 12:04 pm
Tooth flossing is an essential part of any modern dental routine, though people have been finding ways to perform interdental cleaning for millennia. Did you know that archaeological evidence has been found of people using sticks as tooth picks? Over the years, all sorts of materials and objects have been used, from horsehair to silk threads. Thankfully, these days we have many different forms of convenient (and hygienic!) tooth floss products to help keep your teeth in tip top condition. Read on to find out more about flossing and the best way to do it.
- Why bother?
Regular flossing is a great way to remove bits of food and plaque from places that toothbrushes can’t reach – between your teeth and under gumline. This is particularly true if you aren’t so careful about the rest of the dental care routine, or if you have an orthodontic appliance like braces that tends to accumulate detritus! Removing this bad stuff is important because it stops bacteria in the mouth creating acid – the kind that destroys protective tooth enamel, and causes cavities and other dental diseases. As well as keeping teeth free of food and plaque, flossing helps keep gums stimulated and healthy. This keeps gum disease at bay as well.
- How to floss
Take a good length of floss, around 18 inches, and wind either end round the middle fingers of both hands. Then, use your thumbs and forefingers to guide between your teeth. Be gentle around gums, and pull gently up and down to clean between teeth. You can wiggle the floss around the tooth surface to give an even better clean. Don’t worry if you have a little bit of bleeding, this is normal – particularly if you haven’t flossed in a while. However if you suffer regular or severe bleeding, you should see a dentist such as Drs. Nicolas & Asp, as it may be a sign of another underlying condition that needs to be treated.
- When to do it
Ideally you should floss daily, though if you can’t manage that, try to do it as often as possible. Two or three times a week is still good. With regular flossing, you will feel a difference – and your dentist will see it! Make sure you throw floss away after each use – it isn’t suitable to be used again. Flossing before bed is usually the easiest time, and it’s one of the most effective times to floss also.
- Types of floss
Modern floss uses nylon thread, often being waxed for comfort and ease of use. Waxed means it won’t fray, but if you have tightly-packed teeth, you may find unwaxed to be more effective. A more expensive type of floss known as single filament can be great if you have very closely packed teeth, and you find that nylon floss tends to fray a lot. If you have braces, you can buy stiffened floss. Flavoured floss makes the process a more pleasant experience, especially for children. A slightly different product is dental tape, which is broad and flat. It offers great cleaning power, but can also be tricky if your teeth are very close together. A floss holder is really helpful if you find holding floss to be fiddly.
- Other options
Tooth picks are good for cleaning gums but be careful you don’t damage through overzealous cleaning. Interdental brushes have tiny bristles that clean thoroughly between teeth, though it can be easy to overbrush and cause bleeding. Your dentist may recommend these if you are vulnerable to gum disease, and the dentist can help advise on the best way to use them too.
- Health benefits
Floss regularly and you’ll really notice the difference. Many people find bad breath disappears, and teeth feel cleaner. It’s a great way to give teeth an extra boost in staying healthy – and gums, too.
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