Flossing: Is it part of your routine?

The biggest mistake people make with flossing is not doing it at all!
Many of us do it vigorously just before we visit the Dentist (hoping the dentist will not notice we haven’t done it for the last six months), others floss occasionally when we think of it or when that piece of meat gets stuck and will not budge, and then there are some of us who don’t attempt it at all for a variety of reasons.

Flossing should however, become an important part of our daily oral hygiene routine. Brushing teeth properly will control a lot of the plaque around the teeth, but a toothbrush is not able to reach in between the teeth, where plaque can build up and stay. If not removed, this plaque can lead to decay and/or gum disease.

Flossing is often viewed as difficult for a lot of people and can seem quite complicated at first, to get the right technique. As a result it can also be seen as time consuming, however, if done regularly it soon becomes a habit and forms part of the normal oral hygiene routine.

How to floss your teeth
Flossing can be a bit tricky to start with, and if you have not flossed regularly in the past your gums may bleed the first few times. Just remember to be very gentle. It makes it easier if you are standing in front of a mirror, allowing you to look closely at your teeth and see what you are doing.

Step One

Take a length of floss (about 30cm) and wrap it around the middle fingers on your left and right hand. Leave about 10cm of floss between your middle fingers.

Step Two

Use your thumb and index finger to pull the floss taut and slide this section gently between your teeth – there should only be about 3cm of taut floss between your index fingers. Use a gentle sawing back and forth motion to slide the floss down between your teeth and along the sides of each tooth, gently clearing any debris from between the teeth as you raise the floss out from between your teeth. You can slide the floss down just below the edge of the gum, but be gentle.

Step Three

Work your way around your mouth in a particular order so you don’t miss any teeth (for example start from the top left and work your way around the top arch then down to the bottom right and back around the lower arch). Remember to clean the surface behind the last tooth in each arch. Make sure that you move the floss to a clean section each time you change teeth or wipe the floss with a tissue. This will ensure that the plaque from one tooth is not carried to the next. Once complete, gently brush your teeth and gums to complete your oral hygiene routine.

Additional Aids to assist cleaning between teeth
If you find it difficult to use dental floss as described above, the following aids are also available for helping to clean in between your teeth:

  • Dental floss holders: if you have trouble getting your hands around your mouth to floss, these hand held devices can make the process easier.
  • Piksters: interdental brushes that clean the spaces between teeth – lateral bristles spring out to engage and remove the plaque in the small crevices between teeth.
  • Air floss: Philips have a product on the market that uses air pressure and water to clean between teeth. An alternative for people who don’t like manual flossing.

For more information, next time you visit Pacific Smiles Dental ask your Dentist to show you the best technique for you to floss. It could save you pain and expensive dental bills in the future!

Best time to start flossing
Of course, today (or any day) is the best day to start flossing! Anything you can do to improve your dental health on a daily basis will mean good things down the track.
Imagine no guilty feeling when the Dentist asks if you are flossing or not! It is also comforting to know that you are doing everything you can to maintain healthy gums and teeth and look after your oral health. After all, you only get one set of adult teeth.

Should you floss your children’s teeth?
When your child’s teeth start to touch, a flossing routine can begin – this is usually between 2 and 6 years of age. Due to the coordination required for flossing, children will need assistance or will need to have the task completed for them. This will be required until the children have enough manual dexterity to complete the task themselves (probably until they are around 10 years of age). It is often easier to gently lean the child’s head back into your lap so you can easily see into their mouth while flossing their teeth.

If you would like to make an appointment with a dentist from Pacific Smiles Dental, find a location closest to you or book an appointment online.

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