Brushing your teeth twice a day is a critical part of keeping your mouth healthy. What many people do not realize, however, is that brushing alone does not remove all of the food and bacteria that get trapped in the nooks and crannies of your mouth. This is where flossing comes into play.
Proper flossing loosens plaque and tartar in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth, such as the back teeth and along the gum line. If you’re new to flossing or haven’t reached for the floss in quite some time, then you may need to brush up on your flossing skills. With a little practice and some tips from our office, you will find that flossing becomes easier and your mouth becomes healthier over time.
Proper Technique Is Key
If you want to reap the full benefits of flossing, proper technique is essential. Start by breaking off approximately 18 inches of floss. Wrap each end around both middle fingers, and leave a few inches of floss in the center.
Next, use your index fingers to gently guide the floss between your teeth in a zigzag motion, making sure you reach as far along the gum line as possible. Avoid forcing the floss or using harsh sawing motions, as this can injure your gums and cause bleeding. Move on to the next tooth and repeat the process, using a clean section of the floss to avoid transferring bacteria. Don’t forget to floss the back teeth, as they are also susceptible to decay and gum disease.
In some cases, traditional floss may not be the best option for cleaning between your teeth and along your gum line. If you wear braces or have dental restorations, your dentist can recommend alternatives, such as interdental brushes, floss picks and water flossers. If dexterity is a concern, there are specialized products available to make flossing easier, such as floss holders and pre-threaded flossers.
Benefits of Flossing
Flossing regularly has significant benefits for your oral health. These include:
- Flossing prevents bad breath.
When debris and bacteria become trapped in your teeth, it can produce an unpleasant odor. By flossing regularly, you will dislodge old food from your teeth to keep your mouth smelling and feeling fresh.
- Flossing reduces the risk for gum disease.
Dental floss is one of the best defenses against gum disease, as it removes bacteria-laden plaque before it has the chance to spread deep below the gum line. Without flossing, plaque will continue to attack the gums, causing severe inflammation, redness and pain — and eventually leading to bone deterioration and tooth loss.
- Flossing lessens the risk for cavities.
When food and bacteria fester between your teeth for long periods, your enamel becomes susceptible to decay. Floss can remove excess plaque buildup between teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach, reducing your risk for cavities.
- Flossing keeps your teeth bright.
Finally, flossing can play an important role in keeping your teeth looking great by minimizing discoloration between the teeth. Flossing removes stain-causing food and bacteria before it has a chance to penetrate the enamel.
Proper flossing combined with twice-daily brushing are the foundation for good oral health, fresh breath and a beautiful smile. If you have questions about flossing, want to learn more about preventive care, or need to schedule your next visit to our office, contact Schererville Family Dentistry today at 219.322.3232.