Whenever you’ve visited our office for a routine cleaning, you have no doubt heard us mention floss. Is it really so important? Regardless of how well you brush your teeth, floss is nevertheless essential to maintaining healthy teeth.
What Can Floss Do That Brushing Can’t?
Patients who are especially diligent with their brushing may consider flossing necessary. If you properly brush your teeth, what is there left for the floss to do? The fact is that even the best toothbrush can’t reach every surface of your teeth. Unless your teeth are very widely set, no toothbrush can reach the edges of the teeth. You may be surprised to learn that the edges of your teeth can be a major source of decay. Food particles can easily become trapped between the teeth. Flossing dislodges these particles and scrapes bacteria out from between your teeth before they can do damage.
Are You Flossing Properly?
Even patients who do floss may not be doing it properly. Flossing incorrectly can do almost more harm than good. To correctly floss, break off a piece about the length of your arm. Wind a small amount onto one middle finger, and the rest onto the other middle finger, leaving just a few inches free between your fingers. Hold the free length taut with your thumbs and index fingers. Place the floss between any two teeth, running the floss along the side of each tooth. Don’t saw back and forth against your gums! Gums are fragile, and this rough treatment can cut them and make them bleed. When you are done with one space, move on to the next, winding the floss between your fingers to use a fresh piece for every tooth.
If you only ever use free floss from the dentist’s office, you may not know that there are different types. When choosing a floss, tailor your choice to your mouth. Are your teeth set tightly together? A thin floss, often waxed, will be most comfortable. If your teeth are more widely set, thick floss is the way to go. Patients with gaps between their teeth may want to use dental tape, a particularly thick floss.
Schedule an Appointment
At the office of Drs. Alan Dechter and Matthew Moy, our goal is always to set you up for long-term dental health. If you have questions about how to properly care for your teeth, we are always happy to help. Ask us about proper flossing at your next dental cleaning and checkup. To schedule, contact our Silver Spring, MD office on our website or at (301) 508-9755.