“Remember to brush twice a day, and don’t forget to floss!”
You’ve probably heard those exact words, or something similar, from your dentist after a checkup. For most people, the brushing part is second-hand. It’s flossing that all too often falls by the wayside, although flossing is just as vital to your oral health.
By learning the proper technique, you can turn flossing into a simple part of your daily routine. It’s worth the effort, as flossing plays a key role in defending against tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing cleans plaque and debris from the surface of your teeth, but doesn’t clean the areas between your teeth. Flossing is the only way to reach those hard-to-clean areas, and ensure that your teeth get the best daily care possible.
Tips from Your Calgary Dentist: Why Is Flossing Important?
Cavities are caused by the tooth decay process, which occurs when bacteria in your mouth consume leftover sugars from the food you eat. Afterwards, the bacteria produces acid as a by-product. That acid damages your teeth, starting with eating away at the outer enamel layer, and can eventually cause tiny, painful holes, which we know as cavities. Brushing and flossing keeps your mouth clean and healthy, leaving bacteria with no fuel for the tooth decay process.
Plaque, the sticky substance that builds up on your teeth between brushing, is home to the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Plaque builds up between your teeth, too, just as it does on the surface.
When plaque isn’t cleaned, it hardens into tartar over time. Tartar is damaging to teeth, difficult to clean, and can only be safely removed by your dentist.
Cavities cause pain and sensitivity in teeth, especially when you eat sugary, hot, or cold food. If you’re experiencing cavity symptoms, address the issue with your Calgary dentist as soon as possible to minimize long-term damage.
Where plaque and tartar build up, cavities and gum disease are likely to follow. Flossing daily ensures that plaque can’t build up between your teeth and cause damage.
Simple, Effective Flossing Technique
Most people who avoid flossing do so because they find it difficult, painful, or both. But by learning the right techniques, you can eliminates those issues, and make it easier to turn flossing into a regular part of your daily oral care routine.
- Start by pulling about 45 centimeters of floss from the container. Wrap the majority of it around one middle finger, and the rest around your other middle finger.
- Pull the floss tight between your fingers, using your thumb and forefinger to hold it in place. When you’re ready, use a gentle rubbing motion to guide the floss between your teeth.
- Once you’ve work the floss down to your gumline, hold it in a “C” shape to match the shape of your tooth. Keep the floss tight to your tooth, and clean using gentle up and down movements.
- After you’ve cleaned one tooth, switch to the tooth on the other side. Once both sides are clean, repeat the process between each of your other teeth.
- Remember to always be gentle!
- As you move from tooth to tooth, use fresh sections of floss from the length wrapped around your finger. 45 cm might seem like a lot, but you’ll quickly find that you need it to get the job done.
- If you’re not comfortable using conventional floss, there are tools available to simplify the process. Disposable flossers make it easier to reach tough areas, and keep you from having to manage the floss with your fingers.
- Don’t forget that your child’s teeth need flossing, too! Young children tend to have difficulty flossing, and you’ll generally have to handle the job until your child is around 10 or 11 years old.
Flossing may sound difficult in theory, but it’s really much easier in practice. The key is turning it into a part of your daily routine. With a little practice of proper flossing technique, you’ll soon find flossing as normal a part of your day as brushing your teeth. Speak with your Calgary dentist for advice, if you’re having difficulty flossing. If your teeth could talk, they’d thank you for adopting daily practices that keep them healthy and happy.