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5th January 2015

Flossing

A Guide to Flossing

Dental floss should be used on a regular basis to ensure hard-to-reach areas remain clean and free of debris that can collect and risk the development of tooth decay and gum disease. Regardless of how good you think you are, brushing alone cannot clean all the tooth, even dentists have use floss.

Floss is usually produced from a soft thread using either nylon or Teflon, the string is inserted into this area and moved in an up and down motion to remove collections of food that are difficult to get rid of during brushing.

Why is flossing important?

Pearly whites are under constant attack from plaque – which is a sticky film containing bacteria – that forms on the surface of teeth. This harmful substance combines with starches and sugars found in some foods, resulting in the emergence of acid.

In time, the acid adheres to the teeth and dissolves the protective layer of enamel around the structures, which can lead to dental cavities and gum irritation, while more severe cases can result in periodontal gum disease and tooth loss.

When plaque is left to collect, it hardens and becomes a yellow or brown deposit called tartar, which is a rough grained substance that encourages the further growth of harmful substances.

It is important for individuals of all ages to include flossing as part of an effective dental hygiene routine in order to prevent the formation of decay – also including brushing and using an antiseptic mouthwash.

Some people are unaware of the importance of using this course of action and wrongly assume that a toothbrush is sufficient for removing plaque. However, brushing alone cannot get rid of all traces of the substance.

Are there different types of dental floss?

Depending on their needs, patients can purchase a variety of different types of floss, including:

  • Thin string floss
  • Teflon
  • Thicker string
  • Flavoured and unflavoured
  • Waxed and unwaxed

Personal preference plays a significant role in the selection process, with many individuals opting for a waxed utensil, as it moves smoothly and easily between the teeth without the risk of fraying or catching on the pearly whites.

Thinner string is fairly similar to the aforementioned type of floss and is durable, shred-resistant and supple, allowing it to glide in and out of pearly whites very easily – this is usually considered to be the best kind.

Alternatively, dental tape is a thicker option that appeals to people whose teeth are widely set apart, which can be better for removing plaque and other debris.

Flavoured options are selected because they also freshen breath and leave a pleasant taste in the mouth. Some options are combined with fluoride to offer increased protection against decay and gum disease.

Individuals are advised to try out a number of different kinds of dental floss before deciding on the one that is ideal for their needs, while those who are unsure should ask their dentist which types they recommend.

What is the ideal technique?

While some people employ a number of different techniques for flossing their pearly whites, a simple step-by-step guide can be found here:

  • After choosing the preferred utensil, around 16 inches should be unravelled from the container
  • Holding one end of the floss, it should then be wound around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the same digit on the other hand
  • Use the string between the thumb and finger to ensure a taut, one-inch length remains between the hands
  • Then, patients should slide the dental floss between their teeth
  • During this process, the floss should be held firmly against a pearly white and rubbed in a series of up and down movements. However, individuals should not rub too forcefully as the string may snap
  • Always ensure the gum line is included in this course of action
  • Repeat the process for all teeth, including those found at the back of the mouth
  • Rinse out the mouth with water or mouthwash to remove the dislodged food debris

When is the best time to floss?

Individuals should aim to floss their pearly whites twice every day, or once at the very least. Patients should aim to do this after each time they brush their teeth and include it as part of a daily routine.

In many cases, people may experience some soreness and bleeding the first time they carry out this process. This is completely normal and is a sign the deposits of plaque have successfully been removed.

While this usually eases after the first few times, patients who suffer from this problem for longer should ensure they see their dentist as soon as possible.

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