Are You Using Dental Floss the Right Way?
Developing a regular habit of thorough teeth cleaning can help protect your teeth and reduce your dentist bills. Brushing your teeth is good, but brushing them twice a day is even better. Flossing your teeth adds another layer of protection to your teeth and boosts your oral health, but you need to know how to use dental floss for the best results.
A toothbrush is an excellent tool to remove the plaque off your teeth. The bristles are limited because they will not go very far between your teeth. This means that while the visible surfaces of your teeth get clean, a toothbrush does very little for the spaces between your teeth.
In this small space, you can collect food debris, sugar, and more. The potential damage is that the harmful bacteria in your mouth that produce cavities will stay on the food particles and produce acid. This is what causes cavities. It can also cause gum disease.
About Dental Floss
Dental floss comes in a wide variety of types. It comes waxed or unwaxed, with wax helping the floss to slide more easily between your teeth. It also comes flavored and unflavored. Another type is monofilament or multifilament floss, which consists of a single strand of floss or multiple strands. Other types of floss include:
- Dental tape
- Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE)
- Super flosses
- Disposable flossers
- Water flossers
- Electric flossers.
Benefits of Flossing
It seems that the benefit of using dental floss is questioned by some because tests have failed to show improvement. Many dentists still highly recommend it.
A strong and proven benefit is that it can help to remove gingivitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. There are two symptoms with it, which are red or inflamed gums and gums that bleed when you brush or floss them. At this stage of gum disease, you can usually remove the inflammation and gum disease simply by brushing twice a day and flossing. Once it becomes periodontitis, you will need the help of a dentist to remove it.
Following a regular pattern of flossing is also believed to help prevent gum disease. It regularly removes the acid, food particles, and bacteria from your teeth, giving it little time to damage your gums.
How to Floss
When you are ready to floss your teeth, you need to pull out about 18 inches of floss from the dispenser. Wrap one end of the floss around your index finger on one hand and then around the middle finger on your other hand. Leave about an inch of floss between your fingers. This is the floss you will put between your teeth. After you have used a section of the floss, wrap it around your one finger and unwrap new floss from the other one.
Getting the most benefit from flossing involves gently inserting the floss between your teeth. If you push it into the space too forcefully, the floss can cut your gums. Form it into a C shape around the base of the tooth, and then gently run it back and forth a couple of times. Then run it up the sides of the tooth to remove any plaque there. Be sure to go slightly below the gum line because plaque buildup there will form tartar and that can lead to gum disease.
When you are finished flossing, throw it away. Do not reuse it. Rinse your mouth out with water. If you have already brushed your teeth, you may also want to use an antibacterial mouthwash to help control the bacteria.
Flossing with Braces
If you have braces and are going to use traditional floss, you will want to start with a piece of floss about 18 inches long. Next, you need to thread it between your teeth and the wire. Wrap it around your index fingers and form the floss into a C shape around the tooth. Slide the floss up and down the sides of the tooth and gently slide it just under the gum line. Then, unwrap it from one finger and unthread it, and then rethread it in the next space between your teeth and repeat.
To make it a little easier and less time consuming if you have braces, you may want to try using a floss threader. This tool will enable you to thread it under your braces faster. Another tool that will help you save time is a water flosser. It uses a jet of water to remove the food particles and plaque between your teeth.
An electric flosser may make it easier for people with difficulties reaching their back teeth, or who may have a limited range of motion in their hands or fingers. Some of these flossers have handles that are angled, making it easier to get into those tight spots.
When to Floss
Brushing before you floss is a good idea. It will remove some of the dental plaque that is on your teeth and it may dislodge some food particles between your teeth. It also means that there is less plaque to be removed by the floss.
The best time of day to floss may be up to you. It depends on when you can most easily do it. It does make more sense, though, to brush and floss just before going to bed. This time is recommended because there is an eight-hour period in which the bacteria have time to consume the food particles between your teeth and produce acid. Your saliva glands will produce less saliva while sleeping, so this period may give the bacteria and acid more time to produce cavities.
Choosing to use dental floss daily is a great way to help protect your teeth. If you already have cavities or gum disease, you can have them treated in Champion Dental office in Farmers Branch, TX. Most dental insurance plans are accepted. To set up a consultation or to get more information about the many services available for the entire family, you can contact our office at (214) 747-0763.