Although a lot of people think that brushing their teeth is enough, they are very wrong. Flossing is an essential part of keeping a bright and healthy smile. The plaque that is present on the proximal surfaces of your teeth cannot be removed by brushing alone. By flossing once a day, you remove that plaque and all of the food leftovers. If they are not removed regularly, that can lead to cavities and periodontal disease.
The proximal surfaces of the teeth and surfaces that are right next to the gum line are the ones that are very prone plaque buildup. If a person doesn’t brush and floss properly the plaque will transform into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by the dentist.
Types of dental floss
There are many different types of dental floss available on the market. All of them are placed in a special plastic dispenser and different brands contain different measures of floss. The usual amount of floss is between 10 and 100 meters. The floss can be monofilament floss or multifilament. Some flosses are waxed while others are not. The wax is used for the floss to go between the teeth easily and to prevent any damage to the gums. One other difference between flosses is their width. The thinner floss is made for people that do not have any spaces between their teeth, while the ones with greater width are meant for people that have spaces between their teeth. On the market, there is also another option that is known as dental tape and it is wider than the floss.
The single filament type of floss is more expensive. The thing with the multifilament floss is that it might shred during your flossing, especially if your teeth are very close to each other.
There are special devices that you can use to hold your floss and are named floss picks. If you consider that you are not able to floss properly by only using your hands, a floss pick might be a good idea for you.
If you are trying to find the right floss for you, you can always talk to your dentist to help you with the choice. The type of floss might not make a great difference, the important thing is to have one and floss properly and regularly. Flossing is extremely important for patients that have fixed orthodontic appliances.
When should you floss?
There is not a certain recommended time of the day to floss, as long as you do it once a day. Aside from brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes per session, the American Dental Association recommends you should floss once a day. Some people find it easier to floss in the morning, while others do it at night before they go to bed. Another thing that dentists have divided opinions on is whether is better to floss before your brush or after. Since there aren’t any scientific proof on when it is better, most of the dentists will be happy that you floss at all. As long as you do a good job and thoroughly remove the plaque and food from between your teeth, it doesn’t really matter if you brush or floss first.
How to floss properly?
First, you will need around 40 to 45cm of floss, which you need to wind around one finger of each hand. Most people usually use their middle fingers. You will have to hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. You will have to leave around 3-5 cm of floss between the fingers, so you can use it to clean your teeth. Then, you have to start gliding the floss between your teeth. The movements should be very gentle, and if you feel a lot of pressure while doing this, you should stop because you might hurt the gums. The floss should reach beneath the gum line, and you must make sure that you clean the surfaces of both teeth. While cleaning, you can use a slight pressure on the tooth’s surfaces, but be very careful not to hurt the gums. Each tooth need to be flossed with a clean section of floss. You should always start from a certain section, for example, lower jaw from right to left and continue with the upper jaw from right to left. This way you will clean all the teeth, and you won’t miss any.
You must not reuse dental floss. Once you have flossed a tooth with a segment of floss, always use a clean segment for the following tooth. Once you’ve used the floss, dispose of it in the garbage. While flossing, you are removing plaque that contains bacteria, and you don’t want that bacteria transferred from one tooth to another.
If you feel a lot of pressure to your teeth while you are flossing, you might have chosen a very wide floss. Next time you should buy another type of floss, or ask advice from your dentist. If you find it very difficult to floss or if you are not sure that you are doing it properly, talk to your dental team. They will help you learn how to do it by showing you. You can also watch video tutorials online.
What happens if your gums bleed?
Bleeding gums are very common for people that have just started flossing. If this only happens for the first couple of times, then you shouldn’t be worried. But if the bleeding continues even after a while, and it is present while you are brushing your teeth, it is a sign that you need to visit a dentist. Bleeding gums are one of the first signs of gingivitis, and it is a good thing to schedule a checkup if you notice that symptom. Another reason why your gums might bleed is that you are too aggressive with the dental floss. Try to be as gentle as possible when flossing, because you risk damage to the gums.