We all know brushing is important for great oral hygiene, but did you know flossing is just as important? Flossing gets plaque and food particles your toothbrush can’t reach, which improves the cleanliness of your teeth and reduces bad breath. When’s the best time to floss? How often should you floss? Will flossing really clean your teeth?
Smith and Davis Orthodontics knows all the facts on flossing and how great it is for your teeth and overall health. Here are a few to give you inspiration for fabulous flossing!
Benefits of Flossing
Flossing has more benefits than you might realize. Yes, flossing cleans your teeth, but do you know how much? Flossing cleans a whopping 35% of the surface of your tooth! Flossing removes plaque from over a third of your tooth. Why is that so important? Plaque eats away at your tooth’s enamel, which is the hard outer shell of your tooth. Plaque left to sit hardens and becomes tartar, which can trap plaque against the tooth. All of this can lead to tooth decay, which causes cavities. Flossing removes the plaque and prevents tooth decay, which also prevents cavities.
Flossing also prevents gum disease by clearing away plaque and food particles that can irritate your gums. Prolonged gum irritation can get worse, leading to gum disease. Your gums will become so red and irritated that they will start to bleed. They also will pull away from your teeth. This exposes your tooth to more plaque, and it exposes the more vulnerable tooth root to the acidity of plaque. Gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss.
There’s another thing flossing helps with: bad breath. It’s true! Plaque contains bacteria that can give you bad breath. Brushing helps reduce bad breath, but flossing helps reduce it even more! The cleaner your teeth, the less bacteria and bad breath you have.
The healthier your teeth and gums are, the healthier you are. Gum disease can lead to infection, which doesn’t just make your mouth feel bad. Infection can spread, causing more tooth loss and making you even sicker than before. That’s why flossing is important, not just to your oral health but to your overall health.
How to Floss Properly
Flossing is important, but flossing properly is even more important. There is much more to flossing than just running a string between front teeth in 3.4 seconds.
Best Way to Floss
The best way to floss is to start with actual dental floss, a specially made string often lightly coated in wax to move between the teeth easier and won’t irritate the gums. No, regular thread won’t cut it, but it may cut your gums.
Move the wax between your teeth. If you have braces, use a floss threader (which looks like a thin plastic needle) to get under your archwire. Move the floss up the side of one tooth and down the other, then switch to get the sides clean. Then, move to the next two teeth and repeat.
When Are You Supposed to Floss?
Many people think you floss after you brush. You want to floss BEFORE you brush. Why? Brushing gets the rest of the parts of your teeth squeaky clean. Then you come along to floss, and you get food particles and plaque all over them again.
If you floss first, then all that icky stuff you got out from between your teeth gets brushed away with the rest of the icky stuff on your teeth. So, be sure to floss first and brush afterward.
How Often Should You Floss?
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, though ideally, you should brush after every meal. Should you floss that often? Unless you’re highly prone to gum disease (which some people are), once a day is fine.
Preferably, you want to floss at night before bed, so you get out all of the plaque and food particles you’ve acquired during the day.
Part of flossing the right way is using the right flossing tools. You might think flossing is pretty simple, but there are more options nowadays that make flossing easier than ever.
Waxed vs. Unwaxed
Most dental floss is waxed so it slides between the teeth easier. This is especially helpful if your teeth are crowded together. Some people don’t like or can’t use waxed dental floss, so unwaxed floss is available. Either one works fine, as long as it’s true dental floss.
Flossing tools for easy flossing have become popular, particularly flossing sticks with a small piece of floss between two plastic tongs. You use the stick to floss your teeth, then toss it out when you’re finished. The single-use tools make it a little easier to maneuver the floss.
Patients with braces want to use floss threaders. Remember those needle things we mentioned before? These tools use regular dental wax. The idea is you thread the dental wax through the eye of the needle, then slip the needle under your archwire and between your teeth. That way, you can floss the parts of your teeth below the archwire and clean the whole tooth.
Other Flossing Options
While those are the most popular options, they aren’t the only ones. Many people prefer using a water flosser that shoots a high-speed stream of water between the teeth to floss. Air flossers work in a similar manner. If those don’t work, consider an interdental brush, which looks like a tiny spiral brush on a stick. The brush gets between teeth to scrub as a toothbrush would.
Are Your Gums Bleeding When Flossing?
What happens if you floss and your gums bleed? If it only happens once, it may be something simple like a new dental floss has irritated your gums. Your gums could also bleed if you floss too aggressively. You want to apply gentle pressure when flossing. You’re not sawing a log here.
If your gums bleed regularly when you floss, you may have gingivitis, the beginning stage of gum disease. Often, it means you’re not practicing good oral hygiene regularly. Contact your dentist or Smith and Davis Orthodontics right away. We may need to check your gums and see if other factors are involved, such as side effects from certain drugs or genetic factors. Don’t wait because the longer gingivitis goes without treatment, the better the chance it could develop into something more serious that could lead to tooth loss.
Get More Flossing Facts
Flossing is a key tool for great oral hygiene. It’s just as important as brushing your teeth. But flossing around braces isn’t always easy. If you find it challenging, just ask the Smith and Davis Orthodontics team, and we can show you how to floss with braces like a pro! We serve patients in the Rogers, AR, area and are always happy to help. Schedule an appointment with us to see how we can help!