Even if you’re brushing twice daily as recommended by Dr. Jacob Grapevine of Plano TX, you may not be doing enough to ward off tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease). Although brushing is a vital part of your daily oral hygiene regimen, flossing is equally important. Brushing removes only the plaque-forming that are easiest to reach.
If not removed, this bacteria, combined with saliva and food particles, creates plaque. Plaque is a sticky but clear and colorless substance that attaches to your teeth. The bacteria finds fertile environment in the plaque to begin to eat away at your tooth enamel. This eventually leads to cavities.
This where flossing can make all the difference. Flossing clears the plaque that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth and along the gum line. However, to get the maximum effect you need to make sure you are flossing correctly. In this case the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still rings true. Flossing is that ounce of prevention against tooth decay, helping you to avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures. These procedures can become necessary when tooth decay is allowed to flourish unchecked between teeth.
How to Floss
- Wrap around your middle fingers a length of floss about eighteen inches long. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the already used floss toward the finger with less floss wrapped around it and access a fresh length.
- Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” (back and forth) motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
- Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently slide up and down your tooth. Repeat this several times, making sure to go slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. Do this for each tooth in your mouth.
- Again be sure to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can linger and make you sick if reintroduced later.
Some people prefer to use floss picks over free lengths of floss. These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are readily available at most stores. However, Dr. Grapevine would probably recommend using a length of “free” floss and your hands. Floss picks aren’t made to allow proper flossing due to the fact that you cannot wrap them around a tooth in the “U” shape recommended. However, all dentists would probably agree that using the picks is still better than not flossing at all.
Most dentists recommend flossing after your brush as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss. If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 972.268.6480 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Grapevine today.