Flossing is an important part of the Healthy Teeth Trio which also includes brushing and regular visits to your dentist for a dental cleaning and check-up. Floss plays a unique role in oral health because it can remove a whole variety of things you don’t want between your teeth – food particles, plaque and bacteria that a toothbrush usually can’t remove. Leaving all of those items stuck between your teeth can lead to gingivitis, which is a disease of the gums that can produce major oral health problems.
Floss was originally made from silk. However, floss has evolved since the 1800s and is now made from plastic beads. Yes, you read that right plastic beads. The beads are melted and the squeezed into long, thin strands to make them stronger and very hard to break. The plastic is layered with wax and flavoring to make the process more palatable.
So what happens to your oral health if you don’t have time to floss or don’t think it’s worth the effort? To begin with, plaque will begin to build up between your teeth. The plaque will eventually begin to irritate your teeth and make your gums more sensitive. If you have neglected flossing and then decide to begin, your gums will probably bleed. So be sure you begin flossing slowly. But after a couple of weeks, your gums will get used to the floss and your oral health will begin to improve!
You have several options to choose from in terms of types of floss. Most people stick with regular floss, although there are many types of regular floss unwaxed, waxed, mint flavored, etc. The differences aren’t important and don’t improve your flossing effectiveness. What does impact the effectiveness is your technique.
Floss picks are also popular for flossing because they hold the floss for you. That makes it very convenient to floss because you only have to use one hand to floss. However, floss picks are not as effective as regular floss because they don’t give you the opportunity to reach the angles necessary for effective flossing.
So how do you floss properly?
Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with;
Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth;
Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue;
Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth; and
To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth