To Floss Or Not To Floss, the age old question. Flossing is necessary to maintain optimal dental health. Flossing at least once a day helps remove the sticky layer (plaque) that develops along our gum line and between teeth. This plaque when allowed to build up will eventually irritate your gum tissues and give bacteria a place to call home leading to development of periodontal disease. The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss your teeth regularly every day. Brushing alone cannot completely clean teeth. Dental floss cleans between them and areas brushing cannot.
Is Flossing Necessary?
Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces and helps control development of bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily (if possible floss after every meal), you increase the chances of maintaining your smile for a lifetime and decrease your chances for the development of periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Flossing is the #1 tool we have in the fight against plaque, even more important than the toothbrush. Many people just avoid flossing but in reality it only takes a minute or two once you get the hang of it. Also, many people have never been properly shown how easy it is.
So Many Options…Which Floss Is Right For Me?
The dental floss area at the local pharmacy can be a bit confusing. Floss comes in many types. They can be waxed or unwaxed, they can have flavors, and they even come in different widths.Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. No matter which type of floss you choose they all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight dental work. However, the unwaxed floss makes a slight squeaking sound to let you know when your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss but does tear more than waxed floss. The best floss is the one you are using. Choose what feels most comfortable to you. The goal of flossing is to reach areas of the mouth that brushing alone is unable to.
Traditionally there are two flossing methods: the spool method and the loop method. The spool method works well for those with good manual dexterity. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Gently work the floss between your teeth. Do not force the floss between teeth. You can irritate and damage your gum tissues this way. Don’t rub it side to side as if you’re shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times, forming a “C” shape around the tooth and being sure to go below the gumline. The key is to cover all areas of the tooth to ensure a full cleaning around each tooth.
The loop method is suited for children or adults with limited dexterity, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gumline and forming a “C” on the side of the tooth.
You shoot aim to floss your teeth at least once a day. You are talking 2-3 minutes each time you floss. Extra points will be given if you floss after every meal. Your teeth and gums will thank you in the long run!
Can Toothpicks Replace Flossing?
No! Toothpicks when used properly can be an effective tool at removing food between teeth, but not for daily cleaning of plaque between teeth. When you using a toothpick, do not press with too much pressure, as you can break off the end and lodge it in your gums causing damage to tissues.
Can A Waterpik Replace Flossing?
There really is no substitute for daily flossing. But they are highly effective around orthodontic braces. However, they do not remove the sticky plaque attached to our teeth. Waterpicks are frequently recommended by dentists for persons with periodontal disease. Solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline, available through a dentist’s prescription, can be added to the reservoir in these cases helping cleanse areas to bring them back to optimal health.
My Gums Bleed When I Floss…Should I Stop?
Bleeding gums can happen on occasion when flossing. It can occur from improper flossing technique or it is occurring because of the presence of early periodontal disease. For many, it can be inflamed gums due to gingivitis, which is reversible. Medications and illness can also cause bleeding gums. If your gums continue bleeding after 2 weeks of proper flossing and brushing, see your dentist immediately for a complete dental examination and dental cleaning. Your dentist and hygienist will get you back on track to good oral health.
Flossing is an integral part of anyone’s daily dental hygiene regimen. If you chose not to floss, your smile may pay the price in the long run. Once you get into the habit of flossing daily it will not seem like a chore and your smile will thank you for it! Remember to see you dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.