Flossing 101: What You Need to Know
You probably already know the benefits of flossing your teeth. Flossing prevents bad breath by removing those bits of food that get stuck between your teeth. It also helps eliminate plaque buildup that leads to cavities and gum disease. In short, flossing is one of the best things you can do for your teeth, and it only takes a few minutes a day. If you haven’t been in the habit of flossing daily, but you’re ready to start, here are some basics you need to know.
Types of floss
Dental floss comes in two varieties: waxed and unwaxed. Waxed floss often comes in pleasant flavors, such as mint or cinnamon. Waxed floss is easier to get between your teeth, but it’s also thicker due to the wax coating. If your teeth are very close together, you might find unwaxed floss easier to use. Studies have shown that both types of floss are about equally effective, so pick whichever one you prefer.
Patients who have trouble getting floss between their teeth, or who have dental work such as braces, may find it easier to use a water flosser. Water flossers deliver a stream of water that dislodges food particles and plaque from between the teeth.
When to floss
It doesn’t matter whether you floss before or after brushing, as long as you floss daily. Some people may prefer to floss in the morning to start the day with a clean mouth, while others may prefer to floss before they go to bed.
It’s important to use the correct technique when flossing. Otherwise, you can leave food and plaque behind, or even hurt your gums. Begin by breaking off about 18 inches of floss. Wind the ends around the middle finger of each hand, and hold the floss between your thumbs and index fingers.
Then, gently slide the floss between your teeth. Don’t let it snap into your gums, which can cut the tissue. Curve the floss around the tooth in a C shape, and gently move the floss up and down between the tooth and gums. Use a clean section of floss as you go from one tooth to the next. Repeat these steps for all teeth, including behind your back molars. When you’re done, throw the floss away. Reusing dental floss reintroduces the bacteria to your mouth.
If you’re not in the habit of flossing, your gums may bleed or hurt a bit when you start out. If this doesn’t go away after a few days, contact your dentist to make sure you don’t have gum disease.
Prevention is the best strategy when it comes to dental care. That means getting a dental checkup every six months in addition to daily brushing and flossing. If you’re due for a checkup, call Hunt Valley Dental to schedule an appointment. We can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.