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The Benefits of Proper Flossing

January 07, 2013 | News | The Office of The Palisades Dentists

We have all heard the advice: brush twice a day and floss once a day.  While flossing certainly can make our teeth and gums feel better by removing any food particles stuck in the teeth after a meal, flossing does much more than that.  Proper flossing not only removes food particles, but it can help to prevent tooth decay and gum problems.

f left unattended, food between the teeth can cause bacteria to form, and that bacteria can cause bad breath.  As the food particles left between your teeth break down, they can emit foul smells.  In addition, that bacteria can lead to cavities in hard-to-notice places between the teeth, and preventing cavities is much easier (and less painful) than having them filled.  Finally, flossing can help remove plaque along the gumline.  If left unattended, plaque can lead to gingivitis, an often painful condition that causes sore gums, inflammation, and bleeding.  Plaque that is left on the gumline for too long can develop into tartar, which is a hard buildup that can only be removed by a dentist.  Clearly, flossing is an essential part of your oral health routine and preventive care.  Flossing is not difficult to do, but there are some important steps to remember when flossing correctly.

First, choose the correct floss.  There are many flosses on the market.  Thread or tape-like dental floss is preferable to the harp-like flossing devices available in drugstores because those devices are inflexible.  If you have large spaces between your teeth, you might find an un-waxed floss or tape works well.  For teeth that are close together, waxed floss may work best.  If you have chosen the wrong floss, more than likely you will be able to feel the problem when you start flossing.  Floss comes in different flavors, so you have a lot of choices and can certainly find one that appeals to you.

You don’t need a lot of floss to get the job done; about 15 inches is ideal.  Wrap the floss around your dominant fingers and use your thumb to grip and guide the floss.  Next, insert the floss between teeth, and use a backward and forward motion to remove plaque and particle buildup.  Don’t try to force the floss into the gap between your tooth and gum, but do floss thoroughly down to the bottom of the tooth.  Once you have flossed one gap, move the floss so that you are using a clean section of the floss for each gap. Occasional rinsing with water will help to flush out the food particles that you have removed from your teeth.

It is not always easy to remember to floss daily, but establishing a flossing routine as part of your regular oral care will pay off by helping you to avoid tooth and gum problems down the road.