Flossing is one of those things that everyone knows they should do but probably do not do regularly or correctly. Flossing, along with brushing is one of the most important things you
can do to keep your smile healthy. Flossing is a simple 1-2 minute activity that is recommended to after meals. Once it becomes part of your routine it becomes an easy habit to keep. Everyone should floss at least once a day. The most important time of day to floss is before bedtime. When you sleep, saliva flow slows down and if food is left in between teeth, bacteria have a solid 8 hours to break teeth down with their acids without worry of being rinsed away by saliva.
-Bleeding gums upon brushing or flossing. If your gums are bleeding when brushing or flossing you have a form of periodontal disease called gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible once you are regularly brushing, flossing, and go for regular professional cleanings. If the supporting tissues surrounding your teeth begin to breakdown then you have a more advanced form of periodontal disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis is not reversible without intervention.
-Build up of plaque and food debris along gum line and between teeth. Flossing is able to reach areas that brushing alone can not reach. Lack of flossing will lead to tooth cavities in between teeth (also called interproximal decay). A good tip is to use a disclosing solution before brushing and flossing. It will color your plaque a color like bright purple. This will give adults and children a good visual to see what areas they might be missing.
-Start with about 18-24 inches of floss. Then wind a good portion of the floss around each middle finger. Make sure to leave an inch or two of floss to use for the actual flossing of your teeth.
-Hold the floss tight between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up and down between your teeth. Do not shoeshine side to side as you can wear notches into the teeth over time. Some teeth with tight contacts may be difficult to floss thru. Try using a thinner Teflon type of floss such as Glide. Be diligent and make sure to get in between the tight spaces.
-Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth one by one. It is important to ensure you go below the gumline. Never try to snap the floss in between the teeth as this may injure the gum tissues.
-Make sure to use clean sections of floss as you advance around your mouth.
-To remove the floss, use the same up and down movement to bring the floss up and away from the teeth.
Depending upon your particular needs, there are many types of floss to choose from:
-Dental tape is great for teeth with space between,
-woven yarn floss is for periodontal problem areas,
-thin Teflon floss is for tight contacting teeth,
-fluoride floss is for people who are prone to cavities between teeth,
-Stain removing floss is for smokers and heavy tea/ coffee drinkers,
-all in one or threader floss is for flossing under bridgework.
Any flavor or type of floss that you feel comfortable using and use regularly is fine.
Let’s face it, flossing requires dexterity and work for all of us. Under some conditions or even as we age, we may lose some of our natural dexterity. This does not give you a free pass to avoid flossing. There are various aids on the market to deal with this problem. The most popular of these products are called flossers. They allow anyone to floss
their teeth easily with little to no effort.
-Wishbone type flossers- allow you to wind your own floss onto the holder, maneuver into position, floss.
-Reach access flossers- come with pre- threaded disposable floss ends, even easier to use than the previous type, just bite down, it snaps between the teeth, floss.
-disposable small plastic handled floss, (usually come in a large bag of 100 or so)
-Hummingbird, electric type flosser
There you have it, an easy guide to flossing to help maintain your oral hygiene and your smile for years to come!