Why flossing is essential to your dental health
Although seen by many as an optional addition to oral health, flossing is an extremely important element of dental health. Using dental floss not only helps to prevent tooth decay, but also assists in keeping our gums healthy. It cleans bacteria away from the gum line and removes plaque and food stuck between the teeth, preventing bad breath, tooth decay and gingivitis, and keeps our mouth healthy and happy. In addition to flossing, proper oral health techniques should be practiced at least twice daily. Brushing in conjunction with flossing and regular dental visits will lead to a healthy and happy mouth. Flossing should be practiced at least once a day, and although the time of day has been widely argued, it has not been proven what time is the best. Some people floss right before bed, others in the morning or after lunch. When you floss is entirely up to you, but what dentists do agree on is the regular practice of flossing.
Traditional Dental Floss
Using traditional or non-traditional flossing techniques can aid in the reduction of gingivitis and other oral health related issues. When using traditional dental floss, there are waxed and non-waxed options; both are acceptable for flossing and whichever you decide to use comes down to personal preference. However, non-waxed dental floss does have a tendency to shred between the teeth whereas waxed does not, making it the preferred option for most. The proper flossing technique is a 5 step process, check out MouthHealth’s “5 Steps to a Flawless Floss” for more information. When first using dental floss, bleeding gums is a fairly common occurrence, as the gums aren’t accustomed to the motion of the floss. This should clear up in a few days as flossing becomes a regular part of your dental routine and your gums become accustomed to the floss. However, if flossing is done incorrectly and there is excessive bleeding or the bleeding continues for days or weeks after beginning to floss, contact your dentist right away. You may need to adjust your flossing technique, or you may have a bigger dental problem that needs to be addressed.
Non-Traditional Flossing Tools
If you’ve tried traditional flossing and it hasn’t proven effective, or you want to explore other options besides dental floss, don’t give up on flossing all-together. Consider using a waterpik or proxy brush to get in-between teeth and clean the areas that a toothbrush is unable to reach. If you have braces, flossing might be more of a challenge and can be seen as a bother. However, avoiding flossing will cause more issues in the long run as the food stuck in-between the teeth and the braces can contribute to tooth decay and loss. Proper instruction on flossing with braces can save people a lot of time and headache in dealing with tooth decay. Waterpik flossing is one alternative to traditional dental floss. This type of flossing uses water pressure to flush food particles and bacteria away from the teeth and gum line. Most commonly used in dental offices, waterpik flossing is an easy alternative for those who find traditional dental floss difficult to use, e.g. those with mobility issues or dentures might find using a Waterpik much easier than traditional dental floss. Another relatively new alternative to traditional dental floss is a proxy brush. A proxy brush is commonly used by those with fixed braces or wide gaps in their teeth as traditional floss isn’t able to provide the same quality of cleaning that a proxy brush would.
Be sure to have a conversation with your family dentist about the right flossing tools for you and proper flossing technique. Oral health is a great contributor to overall health. Make sure you are doing all you can to keep your mouth, and yourself, healthy.