General dental care such as brushing your teeth every day is the best thing you can do to prevent gum disease. But your toothbrush can’t easily reach into the spaces between your teeth, which is how bacteria and plaque accumulate over time.
Without regularly cleaning the spaces between your teeth, plaque develops and can harden into tartar. This, in turn, accumulates and results in uncomfortable inflammation of the gums through to periodontitis and the onset of tooth decay. Flossing is the smart way to keep plaque at bay in those hard-to-reach spaces.
In addition to daily brushing and flossing, regular oral exams and dental cleanings are vital for preserving your oral health. Here, the flossing experts at Hometown Family Dental Centers provide a handy guide to flossing.
Are you flossing properly?
Flossing helps prevent gum disease and promotes healthier teeth. But did you know there’s a right way to floss? Follow these tips to make sure you give your teeth the best possible care at home.
The best time to floss
Many people floss after brushing their teeth. However, the purpose of flossing is to remove food stuck between your teeth. If you floss after brushing, you could leave food particles stuck on your teeth that may make their way back to those empty spaces. Brushing after you floss scrubs away any debris from flossing.
To maintain optimal dental health, floss at least once a day and brush at least twice a day.
Helpful flossing tools
Today, you have many flossing options beyond a single string. Different types of flossing tools work better based on the structure of your teeth — for example, if you have tightly packed teeth or more space between them.
Standard floss comes flavored and unflavored, and it’s commonly made of nylon. You can get it with or without a wax coating, and the coating can help you slide the floss between crowded teeth. Dental tape has more of a flat, ribbon shape; it makes it easier to floss when you have braces or wider gaps in your teeth.
Super floss can help if you wear braces or have dental appliances such as bridges. It has three parts: The stiff end enables you to floss under the wires of your braces; the spongy segment works to clean around appliances; and the regular floss helps with gumline care.
Disposable floss threaders and floss picks are useful if you have trouble reaching teeth in the back of your mouth. If none of these tools appeals to you, electric or water flossers work, too.
Basic flossing tips
Flossing is a simple process, but it’s essential to do it properly. Here are some tips:
- Take 18-24 inches of floss and wrap the ends around one finger on each hand, leaving 1-2 inches to use on your teeth
- Hold the floss taut between your fingers and slide it between your teeth — don’t yank it down between tight teeth, which could hurt your gums; use a sawing motion down the side of one tooth to maneuver the floss into place
- Curve the floss into a C-shape near your gums so you can get the space between your gums and teeth as well as around the front and back edges
- Use a clean section of floss in each new space, unwinding fresh floss from one finger and winding used floss onto the other
- For braces, first thread the floss under the wire and then slide it between your teeth
Good flossing habits are important for your overall dental health, and we can help you improve your flossing skills. When was your last dental checkup? Visit us at Hometown Family Dental Centers in Fayetteville, Raeford, and Vass, North Carolina. Call the office convenient to you, or use this secure online form to request an appointment.