Other than brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing is the next most important thing you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy. There are a variety of methods for flossing that make this task even easier.
Why Do You Need to Floss?
Foods come in all forms: liquid, solid, sticky, and slow-to-dissolve, and what you eat can have an effect on your dental health. Sugary and acidic foods and drinks can do the most harm, and so can eating snack foods between meals. The sugars can build up on your teeth, causing plaque to form. Your mouth’s normal bacteria feed off these sugars and create acids which can erode the enamel on your teeth and lead to tooth decay, especially between teeth where cavities are likely to form. Foods high in acids like citrus or tomatoes, can also increase the acids in your mouth and cause harm to the teeth enamel.
When you floss, you remove the dental plaque that builds up between your teeth where normal toothbrushes cannot reach. Without flossing that plaque will irritate your gums, causing them to become inflamed and bleed easily. This allows even more bacteria to enter your gums and leads to gingivitis. Left unchecked, gingivitis can progress to become periodontal disease.
Since each tooth has five surfaces—top, outside, inside, and two sides—if you don’t floss, you leave two of the sides unclean. Flossing is the main way to clean those side surfaces.
The Correct Way to Floss
If you are using dental floss, pull off a piece between 18 and 24 inches long. Wrap the ends of the floss around the index and middle fingers of each hand. Holding the floss tightly, insert it between two teeth and pull the floss toward one side to form a “C” against the tooth. Run the floss back and forward and up and down a couple of times. Repeat on the each side of the tooth.
When to Floss
We recommend that you floss at least once a day, with the best time being just prior to bedtime.
Types of Flossing Available
The best type of floss is the waxed dental floss which can easily slide between teeth without tearing or shredding. However, there are a variety of types of dental floss options and tools available to you.
• Waxed dental floss
• Unwaxed dental floss
• Dental tape that is flat and wide (used mainly for large spaces or gum recession)
• Thin, shred-resistant dental floss (good for close-together teeth)
• Floss threader needles (lets you insert dental floss beneath restorations and wires)
• Super Floss (with a hard end to help insert the floss between teeth or under dental work)
• Floss picks (the floss is attached to a hard handle for ease of use)
• Water flossers
These electronic devices (also known as dental water jets) issue a stream of high-pressure water in order to remove food particles and plaque from between teeth. It issues water from a water tank through a hand-held device that resembles a toothbrush. It is often used by those wearing braces or people who have difficulty using dental floss. If used properly, a water flosser can remove 99.9% of dental plaque.
Make Advanced Family Dentistry Your Family Dentist in Reston, VA
The best way to care for your teeth and oral health is to visit your dentist regularly for a twice-yearly cleaning and examination. If you have questions on how to brush or floss correctly, or want to learn more about why is flossing important, we’ll be glad to answer them for you. The more you know about your dental health care, the healthier you will remain. After all, we want you to keep your teeth for life!
We at Advanced Family Dentistry in Reston, VA would love to be your family dentist! Learn more about our practice and the types of dental services we provide, from general and preventive dentistry to dental implants and oral surgery. Contact Advanced Family Dentistry today to schedule your dental appointment.
Dr. Sonny Kim is a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), the highest education level for general dentists in this field.
Advanced Family Dentistry
Dr. Sonny Kim, DMD
11876 Sunrise Valley Dr, Suite 101
Reston, VA 20191