Whether you’re a flossing fiend or it’s your biggest foe, you’ve probably wondered if flossing is really effective or if it’s just something your parents told you to do.
And if it is effective, what exactly does it do besides removing your lunch from between your teeth?
Flossing is more than a daily ritual. It’s a key part in keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Can flossing alone solve all of my dental problems?
“I flossed my teeth every day and I STILL got cavities!”
Many argue that flossing isn’t effective when it comes to stopping gum disease and cavities. Before making this argument, are you sure you’re flossing properly? If you haven’t grasped the skill (and yes, it is a skill that can be taught), you likely aren’t doing an effective job and you aren’t getting the most out of it.
Even if you are a world-class flosser, there are other factors involved in controlling problems like gum disease and cavities. There are many other things that affect your overall oral health, including:
- Diabetes and heart disease
- The amount of bacteria you have in your mouth
- Dietary habits
- Mouth breathing or asthma
- Manual dexterity
How do I know if I should be flossing?
If you’re skeptical about the benefits of flossing, try this.
Take a piece of floss and run it between your teeth, curve it around them, rub it up and down the surface, then pop the floss out. What does it look like? Is there a white substance or leftover bits from your lunch on it? Is it bloody? Now smell it. Does it smell like fresh breath or does the stench make your eyes water?
Unless your floss comes out pearly white and free from rancid smells, you need to be cleaning between your teeth.
Still on the fence about it after that experience? Imagine you had to put the gross stuff from the floss back on your teeth. Gross, right? Now think back to the smell. If you could smell it from flossing just one tooth, imagine what the people around you can smell coming from your whole mouth.
The only way to get rid of that smell and the gunk between your teeth is to clean all of the nooks and crannies. If you want to give your gums and teeth the cleaning that they deserve, brush twice a day, use dental floss, and research any additional tools designed to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
What is the best routine to follow to ensure optimal oral health?
You know that you’re supposed to brush and floss regularly, but is that it? Not quite.
If you want to ensure that you are getting the best treatment at home, try using a good quality electric toothbrush. It is designed to remove the majority of food debris and plaque from the biting surfaces of your teeth, both cheek-side and tongue-side. Don’t forget to brush the tongue side of your molars on the bottom and your tongue, as far back as you can comfortably go. Some patients also like to use a tongue scraper because they feel it is more effective and can reach farther than a toothbrush.
Once your teeth are brushed, it’s time to floss.
Technique plays a huge role here, and it is highly recommended that you ask your dental hygienist to show you how to do this properly. If you do it wrong, not only are you not making the most of it, you are also putting yourself at risk of damaging your gums.
If you can’t get the routine down right away, don’t worry. It can take up to two weeks to learn how to floss properly. As soon as you can do it well, you’ll start to see results right away. Your teeth and gums like a clean environment. If you leave food particles hanging around, you are at risk of cavities, gum disease, and other problems.
The last step, which is not mandatory, but highly encouraged, is a Waterpik. When used properly, this underrated tool will banish any food debris or plaque that was moved when you were brushing and flossing, but not actually removed from the tooth or gum pocket. Your dental hygienist would be happy to show you how to use a Waterpik effectively.
At your next appointment, ask your dentist and dental hygienist for recommendations on the best tools to maintain a happy and healthy mouth. If you keep on top of your oral hygiene, you will actually need fewer dentist appointments, which leads to more money in your wallet, more time in a day, and a healthy smile that you love.
Do you want to learn how to floss effectively and learn about new tools that will help to keep you out of the dentist’s chair? Dr. Andrea Stevens and her team would be happy to fill you in.