It’s hard to believe that a thin piece of disposable thread can hold so much power over your dental and general health, but the floss you use every day as part of your oral hygiene program really does just that. It forms a vital part of an effective oral hygiene regimen which protect us from health problems that uncontrolled bacteria in the mouth can cause.
Without brushing and flossing every day, and professional cleaning sessions on a regular basis, the bacteria which feed on food debris and deposits, form a filmy substance called plaque, which accumulates in hard to reach places between the teeth.
Left to flourish, the plaque can move under the gum line and into the pockets of tissue that surround the roots of the teeth, hardening into tartar and deepening and stretching those pockets. It can also damage the bones that support the teeth, causing the teeth to loosen (and possibly fall out), as well as leading to gum inflammation (gingivitis) and more serious levels of periodontitis or gum disease. This poses a severe threat to your oral health, and has also been linked to serious diseases that can threaten your general health as well.
Flossing the right way
Choose a floss or interdental device that suits you best. Although the first type that comes to mind is the original roll of waxed or unwaxed nylon strands twisted to form a thread, there are a number of other options available. Included is monofilament floss which doesn’t have the same tendency to unwind, and slides easily between the teeth. Then there are hand-held flossers, some ending in a plastic bow with floss stretched across it, and others that look like toothpicks with little bottle brush ends. There are also water flossers and electric ones which take over the job of moving the floss between the teeth.
Preferably floss after your night-time brushing session when you have finished eating for the day. Going to bed with a clean mouth denies the bacteria the chance of feasting all night, undisturbed by food and water intake, on any debris that’s left in your mouth. Be gentle but thorough – a harsh or sawing action can cut or bruise the gums.
How to floss
When using traditional floss, the finger-wrap method allows you to use a clean piece of floss for working between and around each tooth without stopping to break off a new piece of floss each time. This method entails breaking off one long piece about 19 inches long and winding most of it around the middle finger of your left hand, which serves as a holding spool. Leave enough to wind a bit around the middle finger on your right hand while still enabling you to create a reasonably taught flossing tool between the fingers.
Working with the floss at a similar 45% angle to the one you should use when your brush your teeth, gently move it between all the teeth in turn. Holding it so it curves slightly to cover the edges, move the floss gently up and down between the gum line and the top of the tooth a few times. Without hurting the gum, try to get the floss slightly below the gum line to remove any plaque hiding there. As you move from one tooth to the next, wind the used floss onto the middle finger of your right hand, and unwind a fresh piece from the holding spool to use on the next tooth.
Other interdental devices work the same way and should be used at a similar angle. The only real difference is that they remove the need to wind a long strand of nylon round your fingers and create the flossing tool yourself.
Flossing takes only a couple of minutes every day. But those are very important minutes when you think about the lost teeth, gum disease and health problems that could result if you don’t floss regularly. Teamed with regular professional cleanings at your local Port Coquitlam dentist, flossing can help prevent tooth loss and disease.