Despite the fact that you may already be brushing twice daily as recommended by Dr. James Lassiter of Lassiter Family Dentistry of Kingsland, GA and other dentists, you may not be doing enough to ward off tooth decay and gum disease. Although brushing your teeth is an important part of maintaining your oral hygiene, flossing is just as important. Plaque is a sticky but clear and colorless substance that forms when saliva and food particles combine in our mouths and attaches to teeth.
Brushing only removes the plaque and bacteria that are easiest to reach. These bacteria feed on the plaque and food particles in your mouth. This is why brushing and flossing after meals is recommended. Their digestive acids also begin to erode the enamel of your teeth as they devour the plaque.
Why Is Flossing So Important?
This is where flossing can make all the difference as it removes the plaque that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth. However, it is very important that you are flossing properly. There’s an old saying that goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and flossing is that prevention where tooth decay is concerned. Flossing regularly can help you avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially expensive dental treatment that can become necessary when tooth decay goes untreated.
How to Floss Correctly
1. Wrap around your middle fingers a length of floss about eighteen inches long. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the already used floss toward the finger with less floss wrapped around it and access a fresh length.
2. Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” (back and forth) motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
3. Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently slide up and down your tooth. Repeat this several times, making sure to go slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. Do this for each tooth.
4. Again be sure to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can linger and make you sick if reintroduced later
5. Don’t worry too much if you see that your gums are bleeding as you floss. A little bleeding is perfectly normal if you don’t floss regularly. This bleeding is due to inflammation caused by the bacteria dwelling there. If you floss daily as recommended by your dentist, you should see an improvement in the health of gums in one to two weeks.
Floss Picks Are Less Effective Than You Think
Some patients prefer to use floss picks that are now widely available at most retail stores. These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are intended to be an easier alternative to flossing as instructed above. However, dentists prefer using a length of “free” floss and your hands since the picks don’t allow you to wrap them around a tooth in a “U” shape to clean them around the base. However, it’s still better than not flossing at all.
Schedule An Appointment With Your Dentist
If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health in general, call (912) 576-4011 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Lassiter at Lassiter Family Dentistry in Kingsland, GA today.