Even if you’re already flossing twice daily as recommended by West Ashley Family Dentistry, you may not be doing enough to stave off tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease). While brushing is an important part of your oral hygiene regimen, flossing is equally important. Brushing your teeth only removes the plaque-forming bacteria and particles that are easiest to reach.
This natural bacteria, when combined with saliva and food particles, creates plaque. Plaque is a substance that is clear and colorless substance but attaches to your teeth and provides a home for bacteria. The bacteria finds fertile ground in your plaque and begins to eat away at your tooth enamel which eventually leads to cavities.
This where flossing comes to the rescue. Flossing cleans the places that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth, clearing away food particles and plaque. However, if you aren’t flossing correctly, you may not get the full benefit. As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Flossing could be that ounce of prevention where tooth decay is concerned. Regular flossing could help you to avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that can become necessary when tooth decay is allowed to flourish unchecked between teeth.
How to Floss Like a Pro
- Wrap a length of clean floss about 18 inches long around your middle fingers on each hand. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should only wind one direction, bringing the dirty floss one way and revealing clean floss to use as you continue.
- Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” (back and forth) motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
- Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently move up and down your tooth. Repeat this several times and be sure to go slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. You should do this for each tooth.
- Again be sure to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each gap between your teeth that you clear. Bacteria on floss that has been removed previously can linger and make you sick if reintroduced later.
- Don’t worry too much if you notice that your gums are bleeding as you floss. A little bleeding is to be expected if you don’t floss regularly. This bleeding is from your floss irritating the inflammation that the bacteria dwelling there has caused. If you brush at least twice daily and floss daily, you should see an improvement in the health of gums in one to two weeks’ time, noticeable by a decrease or absence of blood when doing these things.
Things to Know
Some patients choose to use floss picks to clean the gaps in their smile. These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are available at most stores. However, dentists would prefer if you used a length of “free” floss and your hands. Floss picks don’t allow for proper flossing due to the fact that you cannot wrap them around a tooth (see #3 above). However, it’s still better than neglecting to floss at all.
Many dentists feel that flossing after your brush is the best practice as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss. If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call (843) 371-5480 or schedule an appointment online with a West Ashley Family dentist in Charleston SC today.