There’s a reason why dentists are always talking about including dental floss in your oral hygiene routine. Brushing your teeth alone is not enough to remove all of the hidden plaque that destroys teeth — a lot of it is between teeth where a brush cannot reach. Bay City, MI dentist Dr. Daryle J. Mahnke wants all of his patients to know why flossing is so important to your oral health and how to floss correctly.
Why Is Flossing So Important?
Oral bacteria, combined with saliva and food particles, creates plaque. Plaque is a sticky but clear and colorless substance that attaches to your teeth. In plaque, the bacteria finds a fertile environment to begin to eat away at your tooth enamel which eventually leads to cavities.
This where flossing can make a big difference. Flossing removes the plaque that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth. However, it is very important that you are effectively flossing. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Flossing is that ounce of prevention where tooth decay is concerned, helping you to avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that can become necessary when tooth decay is allowed to flourish unchecked between teeth.
How to Floss Correctly
- Wrap an eighteen-inch length of floss between the middle fingers of each hand. Use your thumb and forefingers to move the floss. Wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the used floss to the opposite hand, so you always use a fresh length between teeth.
- Use a gentle “sawing,” or back and forth, motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to the bottom of the teeth where they erupt from the gums.
- Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape and gently slide up and down. Repeat several times, making sure to go down to the gum line, and repeat for the other side of the tooth.
Always wind the used floss around the fingers on your other hand so you’re using a clean length of floss in between each tooth. Bacteria you have removed can move between teeth if you re-use the same length multiple times.
Don’t worry if you see a little bit of blood as you floss, especially if you don’t do it regularly. This bleeding is caused by inflammation from the bacteria in the gums, and you should notice a decrease as you floss more regularly. If you don’t see an improvement in one to two weeks and the gums continue bleeding, see your dentist.
Floss Picks Are Less Effective Than You Think
Floss picks are a good way to get into a flossing routine, but they are not as effective as using the traditional long piece of dental floss. These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with a small length of floss strung on it can just move bacteria from tooth to tooth, because you can’t use a clean length every time. They also do not get around the teeth as effectively as regular floss. However, it’s still better than not flossing at all.
Schedule An Appointment With Bay City Smiles
Common wisdom is that flossing after your brush is best as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss, but it doesn’t matter if you do it before or after brushing. If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 989-272-2478 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Mahnke at Bay City Smiles today.