Our resident dentist Dr Ally gets quite excited when he talks about flossing. Even when there’s no floss.
Flossing is essential for good oral hygiene. Are you doing it right?
Let’s look at your oral hygiene. Do you brush? Check. Avoid sugary foods? Check. Drink plenty of water? Check. Well good for you. Keep it up! But it’s essential you do one more thing: you must floss daily, and not just occasionally, because a large portion of our teeth just can’t be reached through brushing alone. So without flossing, a lot of the nasties get left behind.
But do I really have to floss?
Okay, let’s look at it this way – would you like to avoid:
- bad breath
- gum disease
Then start flossing daily. Just do it. There’s a lot to gain from this one-minute exercise. Flossing helps removes plaque, and plaque causes caries, so flossing helps minimise the chance of dental caries and gum disease.
How to floss your teeth
- Take about 45 cm of floss and wrap it around your index or middle fingers, then grip the floss tightly between your thumb and fingers.
- Place the floss between your teeth gently – without pulling down harshly which can damage your gums. Using a side to side motion, gently work up and down both sides of your teeth.
- Clean the base (neck) of your teeth by gently curling the floss around the base, letting it gently slip down under the gum. If you notice that your gums are bleeding after flossing, this is a sign that you may have gingivitis. Talk to your dentist about this.
- After flossing, rinse your mouth with tap water or mouthwash if recommended by your dentist, to remove any debris.
Types of dental floss
There are two types of dental floss on the market:
- Nylon (multifilament) dental floss
- PTFE (monofilament) dental floss
Nylon floss can be either waxed or non-waxed, but because it’s made of lots of filament, it can occasionally tear or shred, especially if you have teeth that are tightly spaced. If this sounds like you, you may want to try PTFE floss which is a single filament and is shred resisted. Speak your dentist about the best floss for your teeth.
Still find it too hard?
Don’t worry. There are other options, so talk to your dentist. She or he may be able to help you with your technique – or you could try a floss threader – little loops of fibre that can thread through small places in your teeth (perfect for those with a bridge or braces), or a floss pick – two prongs with dental floss strung between them, making it easier for those who find the intricate hand movements difficult.
Whichever method you choose, it is essential that you find some way of cleaning the area between your teeth to reduce your chances of developing caries or gum disease. Once again, speak to your dentist to work out what’s best for you.