For most of us, advice about flossing from our dentist tends to flow through one ear and out the other like, well, like dental floss through our teeth. It’s like when we were all learning about the basics of dental hygiene someone headed some blasé advice. ‘Hey kids, try your best, floss is fun, kind of… but, yeah just brush at least’. So here we were, cute little tykes, with baby pearly whites, brushing our teeth with our Big Bird handled toothbrushes and not having a single thought for floss. Poor floss got left out when really he should be hanging out right next to Big Bird and our favourite toothpaste.
Why Befriend Floss?
‘Why is floss such a good guy?’ I hear you ask. Well, it’s pretty simple. Our teeth have five sides. While our toothbrush does a pretty great job of scrubbing down the three big exposed surfaces, without floss were missing the other two! These two surfaces are a little shyer, they aren’t jumping about saying ‘look at me, I’m so shiny!’. They’re so shy in fact that they all huddle together just going about their business chewing your food unnoticed. So unnoticed are they, that when debris comes their way it gets stuck all up in their nooks and crannies and forgotten about.
This debris is that yucky stuff called plaque and tartar; you’ve probably heard of them. It’s what our dentist spends so much time scraping off our teeth during check-ups. The thing about plaque and his mate tartar is that not only do they attract bacteria causing bad breath, they lead to tooth decay.
There’s one other thing really big thing about a build up of bacteria in your mouth that scientists have started to figure out. Excess bacteria in the mouth has significant correlations with heart disease and complications with pregnancy and birth!
When the risks are so high, why wouldn’t we make friends with floss?!
How to Make Your Flossing Technique Flourish
Flossing shouldn’t be hard work. Adding just an extra minute or two on to your daily dental routine will help. To floss you want to grab yourself some, well, floss, a.k.a dental string. Break off a significantly long piece, 15cm or so, you want to use a clean section of floss for each tooth. Wrap it around one finger on each hand, the index finger on one hand and thumb on the other usually works to get the most leverage. Pull the string tight and start on any tooth. Give the floss a little wiggle to get between the teeth, you don’t want it to flick down to hard onto your gums, so be gentle. Then wrap it around the curved side of one tooth, then pull it out, scrapping along the surface of the tooth in one smooth motion. You can give it a little up and down polishing motion, but whatever you do, don’t start sawing away, you’ll only end up damaging your gums. You’ll need to repeat this process for both sides of each tooth. Hence the significant amount of floss needed.
To really give the plaque, tartar and bacteria party a hard time, it is suggested you give your mouth a rinse with mouthwash after flossing. If you’ve been a bit rough on your gums you’ll certainly learn about it at this point.
When you first start flossing it’s not uncommon to see a little blood from your gums as they get used to it. However, if they continue to bleed after a week or so you’ll need to reconsider the technique your using, and it’s best to consult your dentist.
To Floss First or Last, that is the Question
It’s a pretty heated debate. To floss before or after brushing. Will we ever really have an answer? Honestly, probably not, most dentists have conceded that as long as your flossing there’s not much more to worry about. Apparently, they’re more concerned with finding out more about oral bacteria leading to other diseases.
So regardless of whether we’re flossing before, or after brushing, it’s definitely recommended we do it at least once a day. Though each time you brush is ideal.
Floss My Style?
Who would have thought there would be so many options for this simple string? Some are thick, some are thin, some are flat and wide, it is really all about personal preference. Just like the first or last question, it seems no ones all too concerned about the style of your floss, just as long as it’s getting used, daily.
Whether it is your flossing technique, a check up or something that’s a bit more of a pain in the gum that you’d like to get checked out. The team at Hamilton Dental have you covered.