Many people have heard that flossing is a vital component of sufficient oral hygiene, but few people incorporate flossing into their regular routine. Studies show that only about 50% of Americans floss on a regular basis. Many of us only floss directly following a dental visit, but it is vital to floss on a daily basis. However, it is also important to understand how to floss in an effective manner to ensure that it is providing the maximum amount of benefits to your smile. Here at Mills River Family Dental, we strive to provide you with all of the services and information that you need to optimize the health of your teeth. Here are a few things you need to know about how to effectively floss your teeth.
Tooth Flossing Benefits
Though brushing your teeth is important to keep them in good condition, it is also important to floss regularly. A toothbrush can only effectively remove bacteria, plaque, and food particles from about 60% of a tooth’s surfaces. Floss is a vital component to remove these harmful substances from the other 40% of the tooth’s surfaces. When these particles build-up under the gumline, they can cause the gum to become inflamed, which can lead to bleeding gums. This is also a factor that contributes to growing levels of gum disease. Regular flossing fights gum disease and gingivitis, which goes a long way toward improving the health of the gums.
Flossing on a daily basis can help to prevent bad breath, which can be incredibly embarrassing for an individual. It also helps to prevent tartar from building up between the teeth. Tartar is formed when plaque hardens, forming a substance that can be very difficult to remove without obtaining a thorough dental cleaning.
Tools for Flossing Teeth
Traditional floss is a rather simple tool and is generally very effective at removing particles from between the teeth and beneath the gumline. However, there are some cases where dexterity may be an issue, which can result in less than ideal flossing. Understanding the various tools that are available for flossing can go a long way toward helping you to make the best decisions for your flossing needs. Standard floss comes in multiple varieties, including waxed or unwaxed. Either type is effective, but there are benefits to each. Waxed floss is stronger, which prevent fraying, and glides easily between the teeth. Unwaxed flossing is thinner, which can help it to more effectively reach between teeth that are tightly packed. However, it does fray more easily than its waxed counterpart. Flavored floss is largely up to your own preferences.
Most experts recommend that standard floss be used in combination with these other methods, as standard floss is generally the most effective tool for flossing. Other tools include water flossers and air flossers. These tools use high pressured streams of water or air to flush particles from between the teeth. Floss picks hold a strong piece of floss between two posts, followed by a pick at the bottom of the tool. This tool can be valuable for reaching further back into the mouth, as well as effectively removing particles. They are also convenient to keep a package of in your car or at your desk, so that you can floss your teeth on the go. Interdental brushes are tools that have small bristles that more effectively reach between the teeth as you brush over them. Consult with your dentist for more guidance regarding the best flossing tool for your needs.
How to Floss your Teeth
The manner in which you floss your teeth is just as important as flossing on a daily basis. First you need to choose what floss you intend to use. Waxed floss generally slides more easily between the teeth and doesn’t fray as often as unwaxed varieties. Wide floss is more effective at removing particles from the teeth. Flavored floss is a matter of personal preference. If spearmint flavored floss makes your mouth feel more refreshed, use spearmint flavored floss. Once you have decided on what floss to use, you need to take a strand of floss that is about 18 inches long.
Wind the strand of floss around a finger and use your index fingers and thumbs to guide the floss in the direction you wish. Slide the floss up and down between each tooth. When you reach the base of the tooth, curve the floss in a c-shape around the tooth and gently slide it under the gumline to remove food particles that may be wedged there. Ensure that you use a clean section of floss every time you move to a new tooth. Used sections may contain bacteria that you are simply spreading throughout your mouth. Also take care not to snap the floss into the gums, as this won’t be effective and can be painful.
Flossing Back Teeth
The back teeth can be difficult to reach, which is the excuse of many people for not flossing them. If you have a long enough strand of floss, you should have no problem reaching far enough back into the mouth to floss your back teeth. Other tools can also be incredibly helpful at aiding with the flossing of the back teeth. A water flosser, for example, can shoot a water stream just as effectively in the back of the mouth as they do in the front. Floss picks contain handles that allow you to easily reach back into your mouth. Though the back teeth aren’t as prevalent as the front teeth, they do the majority of the chewing and need to be cared for properly.
How Often you Should Floss
Flossing needs to be done at a minimum of once a day in order to be effective. Ideally, individuals should floss after every meal, but this is impractical for many people. It may be particularly beneficial to floss in the evening, as your mouth produces less saliva while you sleep, which creates an environment where bacteria thrive. Ultimately, the best time to floss is when you have the time to floss thoroughly and protect your teeth.
Flossing is incredibly important when it comes to your oral health. Similarly important is regularly visiting your dentist to obtain professional cleanings, as well as brushing your teeth correctly. To schedule your dental cleaning, contact us at Mills River Family Dental today!