“Have you been flossing regularly?” It is indeed one of the most frequently asked questions every time we visit our dentist. How important is this seemingly not-so-difficult process of oral hygiene? The answer is “very”. Even though flossing may seem futile and unnecessary, it's of great importance as it removes the plaque which is left behind even after brushing our teeth and if this plaque is not removed in due time, it becomes tartar or calculus. Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease.
Now, what is flossing essentially? Let’s just say that if you are not flossing then you are not cleaning one-third of the tooth surface. It is basically the process of cleaning between the teeth by the means of threads to remove the food particles and plaque in places where the toothbrush cannot reach.
Benefits of flossing
- Fresh breath- Flossing after any meal will remove every bit of food stuck in your mouth that can cause bad breath.
- Portable- Unlike toothbrush, you can keep floss anywhere like in your pocket or wallet.
- Reduce dental bills- Flossing has been shown to reduce the cost of dental bills by whopping 40%.
- Reduce diseases- Flossing helps you prevent dementia, stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
- Stimulate your gums- Flossing can help you stimulate your gums and boost circulation, which leads to healthy teeth and gums.
- Flexible- Floss can go anywhere where your toothbrush cannot like down between your teeth and beneath your gumline.
How often should I floss?
Many people floss 2-3 times a day, but do it quickly, which is not much useful as they miss out a lot of bacteria and debris. The best way to floss is to do it slowly and do it once a day to clean your entire mouth.
Right Technique of Flossing
Flossing during braces
- Start with about 18 inches of floss.
- Leaving an inch or two of floss, wind most of the floss around one of your middle fingers.
- Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the other hand.
- Slide the floss, gently up and down between your teeth by holding the floss firmly between your thumbs.
- Never snap the floss into the gums.
- Gently cut the floss around the base of each tooth, covering the area beneath the gumline- that’s where the toothbrush cannot cover.
- Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of your lower teeth.
- Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.
- Throw the floss away once you are done with the flossing.
Flossing is even more important when you are using braces, as food and bacteria can get lodged between the arch wires and can lead to permanent damage to your teeth. Make sure that you use waxed floss products as unwaxed products can get trapped in your braces. Remember to be careful when flossing so that you don't end up damaging your braces.
Do’s and Don’ts of flossing
- Use one inch of space in your floss inside your mouth.
- Use high-quality products approved by the dental association.
- Use a waxed floss if your teeth are spaced together.
- Spend at least one minute when flossing.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Use one floss more than once. It is only used for one-time purposes.
- Hesitate to ask for help when flossing. It is certainly tricky to learn proper technique, so ask your dentist.
- Be too aggressive while flossing.
- Rush. Take time while flossing for effective results.
- Replace flossing with brushing. Both are important for healthy teeth.