“How often are you flossing?” has to be the most dreaded question at the dental office. Some patients use this opportunity to honestly answer that flossing is not currently part of their routine. Others may embellish the frequency at which they are flossing (we can tell if it’s not that often!). And still, some don’t truly understand the benefits to flossing whether they are or are not doing it.
Flossing is a crucial part of the oral healthcare routine because it removes large chunks of food and debris that you can see, but it also loosens up plaque and biofilm that you can’t see. Food particles that remain between teeth are left susceptible for the oral bacteria in your mouth to feed on. The bacteria then release an acidic byproduct that eats away at the tooth structure. This is how cavities are formed. Flossing is a great defense against cavity formation!
Now that it is understood why we should floss, we have to discuss the HOW of flossing.
1. Pull out about 18 inches of floss. Any brand is fine, and you may find that you prefer one type over another. There are waxed, unwaxed, flavored, and unflavored varieties. Try them all until you find your favorite!
2. Wind the floss tightly around your index or middle fingers on both hands so that the floss between your hands is taut.
3. Slide the floss between each set of teeth that touch, as well as where your last molar meets your gums. Slide the floss up and down the teeth, following the natural curve of each tooth in a “C” shape. Imagine the floss giving each tooth a little hug! Floss between teeth and where your teeth meet your gums. Use a new clean section of floss for each set of teeth.
If you’re unsure about your technique, you can also ask your hygienist at your next dental cleaning.
If arthritis in your hands or another condition prevents you from flossing adequately, consider a dental pick, oral irrigator, or electric flosser. Give us a call 865-982-7602 or you can ask about options at your next visit. We will help find a solution for you!
And to answer that dreaded question of how often you SHOULD be flossing? You should be flossing at least once a day, preferably at night, to remove any debris that could potentially sit overnight.