Do you really need to floss every day? Absolutely! Flossing every day is important for good oral health. Why, you ask? A toothbrush can get surface food debris and plaque, but it cannot reach between the teeth and up into the gums, which is where bacteria and plaque like to hide. That’s where floss comes in!
What is floss?
Floss is typically made of nylon, and can be waxed, unwaxed, or even flavored. “Invented” in 1815, floss was originally unwaxed, silk thread. In 1882, it was commercially produced & marketed, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that it became the waxed, nylon floss we know today. Now, you can find floss of all kinds, from stiff-ended floss (to help flossing with braces), to floss built into toothpicks, to soft floss for sensitive teeth & gums.
Why should I use it?
You don’t want cavities, do you? We didn’t think so. Flossing daily helps prevent cavities and gum disease by removing debris and plaque. Built-up plaque can erode the outer coating of your teeth and cause a dreaded cavity. Even worse, is when the plaque hardens and forms into what is known as tartar. According to the American Dental Association, “once tartar forms, only your dentist can remove it”. Built up tartar can lead to gum disease.
How do I use it correctly?
Now that you know you need it, lets go over how to use it – properly. These instructions are recommendations from the American Dental Association.
- Break off about a foot (12 inches) of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle, or index, fingers. Wrap the remaining floss around the same finger on the opposite hand. One side will distribute the floss and the other will take the soiled floss. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle back and forth, rubbing motion. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape and slide the floss between the gum and the tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this with each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the furthest teeth!
We’ve covered good old-fashioned floss, but there are other options for between the teeth cleaning.
- Waterpiks, or dental irrigators, use high-pressure streams of water to clean between your teeth and around the gum line.
- Dental tape is essentially wide floss for people with larger spaces between their teeth.
- Floss threaders are great options for those with braces, bridges or dental implants.
Your dentist can suggest flossing products for you and your family’s individual needs. We help our patients with flossing all the time. Looking for a new dentist or seeing what other options are available? Come by and see us! We’d be happy to set you up with a tour of our office and introduce you to our staff. Request your appointment today!