Flossing – Are you doing it right?
What’s the point of flossing?
Flossing is a like the neglected step child of oral hygiene. People don’t often do it, they begrudgingly will (for the most part) when the need for it is pointed out, but still, it’s sort of a “Do I really have to?” attitude. It’s partially understandable I guess. It’s not the most fun thing to do to shove your hands and a piece of string into your mouth, cleaning betwixt all of those pearly whites, while at the same time getting your fingers covered in saliva. Yeah, it’s not fun. BUT! Big “but” there. It IS necessary…unfortunately.
You see, flossing is an integral part of keeping your mouth clean. I’ve mentioned a few times before the difference of what a brush does and what flossing does. But just to cover all bases, here goes: Out of the five sides of your teeth that need to be cleaned, your toothbrush can only manage to clean three of them. It can clean the top side of your teeth (the part you chew on), it can clean the inside of the teeth, and it can clean the front side of your teeth. What about between the teeth? Between your teeth is one of the most common places food gets stuck and sits. Obviously an important place to clean. In fact, other than the chewing surfaces of your teeth, the surfaces between the teeth are the most common places you could develop a cavity, and because the enamel is a bit thinner (enamel tapers as it goes down towards the gums) between the teeth than it is on the chewing surface, for obvious reasons.
Flossing prevents the buildup of bacteria between your teeth, it helps to curb gum disease, and it will help remove food particles stuck between your teeth. It’s great! I’m sorry to say this (no I’m not), but, flossing is not really an “optional oral hygiene activity,” well, not if you don’t want to start developing gingivitis and more advanced stages of gum disease. I do realize that it can be a hard habit to get the hang of, but it is essential in maintaining proper oral hygiene, i.e. your gums will thank you for it. If you are one of those who, when taking a shower, likes to use conditioner, well, why not floss while the conditioner sits? Watching TV? Grab some floss and do it while your sitting. Get innovative! Flossing is important. Find the time to get it done.
Flossing – Let’s get down to basics.
The technique of flossing is pretty important to ensure that the spaces between your teeth are cleaned properly. Generally what I see a lot of people do, and that I used to do myself is, grab some floss (whatever length), hold it in two hands, shove it between my teeth. Lift up and down a little, and BASTA! Done…Except, I was doing it all wrong! Apparently I wasn’t supposed to just shove string between my teeth. Heh, little did I know!
I eventually wizened up, and took my then dentists instruction. I’ll go over that now:
To start, try to find some floss that has fluoride in it. This will actually help re-mineralize “soft” parts of your teeth. Fluoride helps counteract the damage done by bacteria. When you are getting ready to floss, make sure that you get about 13-18 inches of floss (about an arms length), this will allow you to wrap the floss around your middle fingers and still have about 1-2 inches of exposed floss that you can use to start cleaning your teeth with. Grab the exposed 1-2 inches of floss and hold it with your index and thumb. With a sawing motion, begin gliding the floss along the side of your tooth (if you snap the floss in, it can cause damage to your gums and make them sensitive). With your two hands, try to make the floss into a “boomerang” shape, so it’s hugging the tooth (this will help clean more surface area). Glide the floss along the side of tooth and just slightly under the gum-line. Then angle the floss the opposite way and do the other tooth in the same way. Do this with each of your teeth, and as you are flossing, partially unwind the floss so that you are always using a clean part of the floss.
When you’re done doing that with each of your teeth, brush your teeth and then rinse (either using water or mouthwash, preferably without alcohol). With that, Behold!, it is done! The more you floss, the easier and faster it will be. You can also rest assured that you are greatly contributing to your oral hygiene and, doing that, your overall health. So…
Stay healthy my (flossing) friends.