When you find yourself contemplating as to whether you should use your last ounce of energy to floss your teeth before bed, just imagine yourself toothless. Yes, I said it, toothless. Whether it seems like it or not, foregoing daily flossing can lead to unhealthy gums which in turn can lead to loss of teeth. In other words, brushing, without flossing, your teeth is unlikely to be enough to protect you from gum disease and the not-so-fun tooth loss that can result. So, now that we resolved your mental debate you need not contemplate any further, get up and floss your teeth. So as to ensure that your energy goes unwasted, here are some tips on how to properly floss your pearly whites.
BE CONSISTENT! Flossing as often as most of us makes it to the gym will result in little to no benefit to our oral health. To truly appreciate the benefits of flossing, you must floss at least once a day (twice a day would be even better!)
BE GENTLE! So the aim of the game is not to cause problems, but to prevent problems. If you are not gentle when you are flossing your teeth, you can actually damage your gum tissue. In other words, don’t strong-arm your plaque into submission, rather use your dental floss to gently glide the food particles from your gumline and teeth. However, if your gums bleed a little after flossing for the first time in a while, there is generally nothing to worry about. After 5-7 days of consecutive flossing, your gums should stop bleeding when you floss, if they don’t then you should consult your dentist.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FLOSS! You have two main options for dental floss, in the words of Mr. Miyagi, “Wax on wax off.” Alright, choosing floss is not exactly the same as Mr. Miyagi’s first lesson to mastering the art of Karate, but it is still equally as important. Generally, dental floss either is coated with a wax or not. I prefer waxed dental floss because it glides easier between teeth which helps to prevent it from fraying or tearing. I suggest using waxed dental floss especially if your teeth are close to together or if you have dental work or appliances. However, you should keep in mind that waxed dental floss tends to be slightly more expensive so if you have no troubles with unwaxed dental floss, that may be the best option for you.
USE THE RIGHT TECHNIQUE!
- Use 18-inches of floss (no need to pull out the measuring tape, guesstimates will do!)
- Wrap the majority of the floss around either the index or middle finger of one hand and a few inches of the floss around the corresponding finger of your other hand, leaving about 2 inches between the two fingers to floss with.
- Gently, slide the floss between your teeth up to beneath your gumline.
- Wrap the floss around your teeth (forming a C) then glide the floss downwards to remove the food particles from your teeth. Repeat this motion around each side of each tooth.
- Make sure you use clean floss for each tooth, do this by gently unwrapping floss from your finger with the majority of the floss wrapped around it and by wrapping the used portion of the floss around your other finger, always leaving about 2 inches to floss with.
Proper flossing combined with proper brushing (see my blog entitled “How to Properly Brush Your Teeth”) will do wonders for your oral health. I know our busy schedules makes flossing seem like a daunting task, but the vitality of your teeth is undoubtedly worth it. Even if you avoided flossing most of your life, it is never too late to start, it is never too late to reap benefits from flossing. For a task that in all reality takes very little energy and is relatively inexpensive, flossing should not be an option but an essential.
– Dr. Vincent M. Foring