Dental Floss – You Should Use It To Clean Teeth!
Did you know that failing to floss means up to 35% of your tooth surface goes uncleaned? The most common way to clean between teeth is with dental floss or tape. Many people prefer tape to floss, as it is wider and can be gentler on the gums.
Dental floss is a thin filament used to remove debris caught between teeth and between teeth and gums. In 1994, Americans used more than 2.5 million miles of dental floss, the equivalent of circling the earth more than 100 times.
We often get asked questions such as how often should I floss, is flossing necessary, and what teeth should I floss? Regular flossing reduces dental cavities, gum disease and bad breath by helping to remove the bacterial film called plaque that forms along the gum line.
The purpose of both brushing and flossing is to reduce the number of bacteria which inhabit our mouths. Normally, millions of these microscopic monsters call your mouth home feeding on food particles left on our teeth.
How to Floss Right?
Remember that you have several choices when selecting the floss that works best for you. Choose between waxed or unwaxed and flavored or unflavored floss. It’s simply a matter of personal preference. Keep in mind that waxed floss is sturdier and slides more easily between the teeth.
Since baby and children’s teeth are widely-spaced, ribbon floss is the most common selection for children. On the other hand, when teeth have contact points, that is, when they come in contact with one another, the preferred choice is the narrower or string floss. Waxed or lightly waxed is recommended for use between crowded or crooked teeth.
Remember that preloaded dental floss on disposable plastic handles is available for people with limited finger dexterity. This works as well as conventional floss does.
American Dental Association (ADA) recommends:
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space 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 method on the rest of your teeth.
- Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.
Effective Using of Dental Floss
Effective flossing can only be accomplished if you allow the dental floss to clean that portion of each tooth’s surface that lies below the gum line. The dental plaque that occupies this region is the plaque that will have most to do with the health of the gum tissue surrounding the tooth.Since so many people experience problems with gum disease, flossing thoroughly below the gum line should be a prime consideration.
Alternatively, if you don’t like using dental floss, consider an interdental cleaner (electric flosser) which makes flossing easy and convenient.
If you haven’t flossed in a while, you may see a little red tinge of blood on the floss after you use it. Don’t worry if you experience some bleeding at first. This is normal and does not indicate that you should switch your brand or type of dental floss. This indicates that your gums are slightly inflamed and vastly in need of flossing to remove bacteria. With a regular regimen of flossing this red tinge should go away.
When left undisturbed dental plaque can transform into dental tartar. Dental tartar is simply calcified dental plaque, the minerals needed for the calcification process coming from saliva and other oral fluids. The initial stages of the transformation of dental plaque into tartar can take place in as little as 24 to 72 hours.
Once dental tartar has fully formed on your teeth it really can’t be brushed or flossed off. For this reason it is important to floss daily, so dental plaque is cleansed away before it ever has a chance to transform into tartar.