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Proper dental care is important in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Dental hygiene includes brushing, flossing, and regular trips to your dentist’s office for a cleaning. Flossing requires the use of dental floss between each tooth, pressing down into the gums to remove plaque and food particles that brushing alone cannot remove. While this does not sound fun, it is a necessary part of taking care of your teeth and gums.
Dental hygiene sounds pretty simple, but flossing is an activity many people dread. In fact, thousands of people in the United States choose not to floss. Some people claim that they simply don’t have the time, while others say that flossing is uncomfortable for them. If you are someone who does not floss on a regular basis, you could be putting yourself at risk for some serious dental health issues. Dental professionals recommend that you floss at least once a day to keep your mouth healthy and avoid problems with tartar, gum disease, or cavities.
Why People May Not Want to Floss
- Do you really have to floss? Yes. While difficult, flossing is one of the best things you can do for your oral health, though many people convince themselves that brushing is enough.
- Twenty-seven percent of adults lie to their dentists about their flossing habits. A survey showed that people would rather be doing a lot of unpleasant things rather than flossing, including washing dishes or cleaning their toilet.
- Twenty percent of people never floss their teeth. Why? Often, people just plain don’t enjoy it, and in addition, when you don’t floss regularly, it can make your gums bleed. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, though: In fact, the more you floss, the less your gums will bleed.
Different Ways to Floss
- String floss is not the only way you can remove buildup from between your teeth. Floss is a flexible strand of string that can be coated with wax or uncoated, but other tools exist that can clean between teeth, including brushes, wooden or plastic picks, and even water flossers. Regardless of the method you choose to use, the flossing method should be approved by the American Dental Association.
The Proper Way to Floss
- Proper flossing technique allows you to maintain a healthy mouth and gums. To floss, wrap the ends of the floss around each of your index fingers and hold the floss taut. Move the floss between each of your teeth on the top and bottom of your mouth, adjusting the floss as needed.
- Another method of flossing requires 18 inches of floss wrapped around the middle fingers of each hand. Holding the floss tight between your thumb and index fingers, use your thumbs to direct the floss between each of your upper teeth. Then, guide the floss between each of your lower teeth. When you do so, use a zig-zag motion to remove plaque and food. Ensure that you slide the floss around each tooth and under your gum line to remove as much buildup as possible.
- When it comes to flossing, it’s important to be gentle. Be sure to curve the floss around the gum line without jamming it into the surface. Take one tooth at a time to ensure that you are giving each tooth a deep clean, and remember to floss at least once a day.
- There are four key elements to proper flossing: wind, guide, glide, and slide. Wind 18 inches of floss around a finger of each hand (typically, the middle or index finger works best) and use your thumbs to guide the floss. Glide the floss around each tooth and each gum line, sliding it up and down against the surface of each tooth.
How Often to Floss
- You should floss at least once a day. You can do so in the morning or at night; there is no right or wrong answer. Most people choose to floss at a time when they are less tired. What is important is that you actually floss.
- Many dental hygiene experts recommend flossing at night. This makes sense, as your mouth builds up plaque and food residue when you eat throughout the day. Before or after brushing your teeth at night, flossing will help remove the buildup from the day.
- Fairfax dentists recommend flossing after each meal to limit food buildup in the mouth. For more information on proper flossing technique, experts in Fairfax dentistry offer in-office demonstrations to patients. With proper flossing, you might be able to lessen the need for Fairfax cosmetic dentistry.