Most people know that for good oral health, you should brush your teeth and floss regularly. However, many people don’t follow this good oral hygiene practice properly. Flossing especially tends to get ignored, although it is a critical step for cleaning between teeth to remove plaque. For whiter, healthier teeth, flossing to prevent plaque buildup before it causes cavities and more significant dental issues is a good habit to get into.
Importance Of Flossing
Brushing alone cannot reach everywhere, especially between teeth; flossing is necessary for interdental cleaning that brushing misses. Interdental cleaning with dental floss or a dentist-approved alternative clears plaque from between teeth to remove food and debris stuck between them. By not flossing, you miss more than one-third of each tooth’s surface, according to the Canadian Dental Association.
Plaque is acidic and damages tooth enamel if allowed to remain on tooth surfaces, eventually leading to holes in the enamel and cavities. It also can harden into tartar.
If you floss your teeth regularly when you brush your teeth, it helps keep your teeth beautifully white and bright, but there are other important reasons to floss, as well.
Prevents Tooth Decay and Cavities
If you don’t floss, even if you brush regularly, you are at higher risk of cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease, because when you floss correctly, you remove plaque in between teeth, keeping areas of your teeth clean where toothbrushes do not reach.
Removing plaque regularly is important for oral health as it leads to tooth decay. Also, if left long enough, plaque hardens into tartar, causing yellowing of your teeth and making it harder to remove more decay-causing plaque. The porous surface of tartar also harbours bacteria. Once tartar has hardened onto your teeth, professional cleaning by a dental hygienist is necessary to remove it.
Tooth decay from plaque leads to cavities, which, if not treated, results in pain, infection, and more significant oral health concerns.
Prevents Gum Disease
Plaque and tartar make gums sensitive, inflamed, swollen, and red. It is best to start flossing as soon as possible to prevent this. Early gum disease or gingivitis is reversible, but later-stage gum disease, or periodontal disease, is irreversible. At this point, it can lead to tooth loss.
Dental floss helps remove plaque around and below the gum line to avoid these issues.
Prevents Other Health Concerns
Chronic oral health problems are linked to other, overall health problems. Recent research indicates a higher risk of heart disease if you have gum disease.
It also helps prevent chronic bad breath, by helping to remove bacteria that can cause it.
Best Flossing Practices For Daily Oral Hygiene
Most people know the minimum of daily flossing to prevent plaque buildup. However, where possible, flossing after each meal is ideal. Flossing removes plaque, bacteria and food particles and offers protection against cavities and gum disease. Plaque can harden into tartar in as little as 24 hours, so more frequent and regular flossing is best.
It’s generally recommended that you floss your teeth before you brush your teeth, so that all tooth surfaces can benefit from the fluoride toothpaste, to avoid tooth decay.
To properly floss, use about 18 inches of dental floss and wind most of it around the middle fingers of each hand, leaving a small strand to work with.
Hold the floss between your index fingers and thumbs to slide it up and down between two teeth. Reach the gum line, then curve the floss to gently slide it under the gum of one tooth. Repeat for the gum of the tooth on the other side. Keep the floss firmly against each tooth to clean properly. Slide the floss out and unwind a fresh section, and repeat for between all teeth.
It is more difficult to floss correctly with braces, and it takes more time. Use waxed floss, which won’t tear and get stuck. You can ask your dentist for tips, or use a water pick or floss threaders.
Waxed floss slips between teeth more easily and is often preferred. Interdental cleaners like threaded flossers and dental picks are easier for some to use. There are also tiny brushes or powered water flossers that can make for an easier daily routine. However, most alternatives are not as effective as flossing, so dental floss is recommended if possible.
Visits To Your Dentist or Dental Hygienist
A little daily effort helps you in the long term and saves you more frequent and costly visits to your dentist in the future. Also, the longer you have a routine, the easier it is to maintain. However, professional cleanings are an essential part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy, to clean any plaque or tartar you miss.
Robson Square Dental provides a comfortable, friendly atmosphere, and performs thorough professional dental cleaning, as well as exams and oral health screening, to ensure your optimal dental health.