Basic dental care advice – the importance of flossing
Whatever state your teeth are in, be it crooked teeth, missing teeth or something else altogether, flossing is something that is worth doing regularly.
Many people are put off flossing, for a variety of reasons, but there are far more reasons to take up the practice than not. Perhaps you had a bad experience with flossing when you were younger – maybe a piece broke off in your mouth, maybe you just didn’t like the taste in your mouth – but several varieties of floss exist to solve these problems and as a daily regime for your dental health it might be time to revisit it!
Dental floss is available in different thicknesses and with various coatings and even flavours (great for encouraging the kids to floss more regularly), while floss holders can be a great help if you have bridgework or dexterity problems. With gum disease, prevention is most certainly better than cure.
When you floss for the first time, or after a long period of ‘flosslessness’, there may be some blood – don’t worry about this, it’s perfectly normal, and just shows you that your gums were inflamed from plaque build-up. This should clear after a couple of days, demonstrating the good your flossing is doing, but if it doesn’t then pay your dentist a visit.
The first step to flossing is to prepare your floss. Take around an arm’s length of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of both your hands, as shown above, and hold a small piece with your index fingers and thumbs. Slip this length of floss in between two of your teeth – the molars are a good place to start, so you can work logically through your mouth – easing it in with a ‘zigzag’ back and forth motion.
Making sure to wrap the floss around the tooth in question in the shape of a ‘C’, move the material back and forth, sliding it up and down the length of your tooth. Ensure that the floss travels below the level of your gums, between them and your tooth, to clean all of your tooth’s surfaces, before moving on to the next tooth to repeat. Wind the floss from one finger to the other every so often to avoid weakening it too much, keeping ‘new floss’ on one side and ‘used floss’ on the other.
Flossing, ideally, should take place after every main meal – but flossing once a day is the recommended minimum. Because an immediate improvement isn’t usually visible (unlike simply brushing), many people are put off flossing by its inconvenience and out of belief that it does nothing. However, with such consequences as plaque, gingivitis and periodontal disease all being reduced in likelihood by flossing regularly, it really makes sense to set a minute or two aside.
See the rest of our blog to answer further questions about flossing or dental hygiene in general – keep on smiling!