I brush my teeth well so why should I floss?
A question you probably hear at every dental health check is ‘are you flossing?’ usually followed by a pause, then a confession.
But why floss? Proper flossing removes plaque and food particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach like under the gum line and in-between your teeth. Not flossing is thought to be the equivalent of not brushing your teeth for 2 full days a week! It’s important because plaque buildup can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, daily flossing is highly recommended if you want to keep your teeth for the rest of your life.
How do I floss?
Starting with about half a metre of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving about 3-4cm to work with Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up and-down between your teeth Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth making a C shape, making sure you go beneath the gum line. Never force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue, after each tooth roll the dirty floss on to the finger and move on to the next tooth using using a clean section of floss. Continue to do this as you move from tooth to tooth until you have done all of the teeth. It’s quite likely that your gums may bleed during the early stages of flossing. Don’t let this deter you! This is a sign that you should definitely floss and any bleeding should resolve after 3-4 days.
You may have heard of dental floss and dental tape but what is the difference?
Dental tape is wider than floss. It’s good for getting into wider spaces between the teeth and removing larger food particles. Some people find it easier and much more comfortable to use than regular floss.
It’s also good for people who tend to “snap” dental floss between the teeth and for people who break or shred floss when flossing. Tape is generally thicker than floss, at Smile Essential Dental Practice we tend to recommend that our patients start and continue with dental tape as opposed to floss.
What if flossing is too tricky?
For a few flossing can be really tricky, medical conditions like Parkinson’s or arthritis can mean that flossing is just not possible.
But there are now many alternatives to flossing: floss sticks can be a great alternative to floss if your fingers are a little too big to fit inside your mouth or you find the floss a bit fiddly.
The dentists at Smile Essential Dental Practice often recommend tepe brushes which are a type of interdental cleaning brush. There are also fancy tech gadgets so if you love your electric toothbrush you might like to try using the Philips Sonicare Airfloss it sends pressurised air and microdroplets shooting in-between your teeth.
Remember if you have any questions about cleaning or are unsure if you should floss then speak to your dentist at your next dental health check.