Are You Flossing Properly?

Seeing your dentist for regular cleanings is important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. But, what you do at home is very important, too. 

Most of us know we need to floss each day. But, even though flossing seems like a pretty simple activity, a lot of people don’t use the right technique, leaving them at an increased risk of developing gum disease.

The team at Fresh Dental Care wants every patient to play a proactive role in maintaining their beautiful, healthy smiles. In this post, we offer a few important tips to make sure you get the most benefit from your flossing routine.

The importance of flossing

The benefits of brushing are obvious: All those tiny bristles are designed to get rid of food particles and sticky plaque that can cause bad breath and cavities. But, as good as those bristles are at cleaning the outer surfaces of your teeth, they’re not really great at reaching the surfaces between your teeth. That’s where flossing comes in.

Slim and slick, dental floss is perfect for reaching between teeth, which are areas where sticky plaque-filled bacteria can hide. Flossing is also good at getting rid of tiny food particles that can get “wedged” in hard-to-reach spots. Working together with brushing, flossing can give your mouth a more thorough cleaning to help ward off tooth decay and gum disease.

Without routine cleanings at home and in our office, gum disease can quickly lead to deep root infections and permanent tooth loss. By flossing on a regular basis, you play a very important part in preventing gum disease and maintaining your natural smile.

Perfecting your flossing technique

Here are some tips to help you floss properly, so you can get the most from your routine.

Floss daily

This is perhaps the most important tip. Even if your flossing technique isn’t perfect, it’s still important to floss as best as you can each and every day. Skipping even one day can give bacteria a chance to seep below the gumline where floss can’t reach it. And that can increase your chances of developing gum disease.

Be gentle — don’t “saw”

It’s OK to move the floss back and forth gently to ease it in between your teeth. But, once it’s in, don’t ever “saw” or “snap” it into place. Being too rough can irritate your gums and make them bleed. Instead, once the floss is at the junction of your tooth and gum tissue, move it along the tooth surface gently to “rub away” sticky plaque deposits.

Curve the floss

Many people think all they need to do is quickly insert and remove the floss between each tooth, but that can leave plenty of plaque behind. Instead, once the floss is in place, curve the floss against each tooth surface in turn, using a gentle up-and-down motion to get rid of any debris. Floss both tooth surfaces from the gumline all the way to the top.

Don’t forget your back teeth

The very back edge of your last molars can collect plaque, too. You might be able to remove some with your toothbrush, but you still need to floss there. Again, curve the floss like a letter C and gently move it up and down along the very back surface of your last molars to remove as much plaque as possible.

Choose the right type of floss

Today, there are lots of options for floss, including biodegradable floss that breaks down in the soil. Each type has its pros and cons, but the bottom line is pretty simple: Choose the floss that’s easiest and most comfortable for you to use. That includes floss that comes straight from a spool as well as special dental floss has built-in handles. 

Throw away used floss

Recycling is great — but not for used floss that could be full of bacteria. Toss it in the trash and use fresh floss each time you floss.

Get more flossing guidance

The American Dental Association offers illustrated flossing guidelines at its website here, along with a helpful video here. And of course, our team will be happy to give you plenty of customized tips and guidance during your next office visit.

To schedule a visit at one of our three locations in Houston, book an appointment over the phone with Fresh Dental Care today.

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