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Posted on: April 26, 2021
Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe
Brushing and flossing may seem like the bane of your existence, but it can be fun and can alleviate many oral health problems as well as many physical health problems.
For decades, dental professionals told us that we needed to brush at least twice each day for the best oral hygiene. However, we now know that we need to floss as well as brush. Some dentists state that a single flossing is the equivalent of brushing twice. That doesn’t mean that you can resort to flossing alone. It means that you need to brush at least twice and floss at least once each day for the best health possible.
Flossing provides protection that brushing doesn’t because dental floss can reach areas that are inaccessible to your toothbrush. After you eat, the bacteria in your mouth combine with the sugars in the foods and beverages you consume, and they begin to form plaque. The process is hastened by the food particles that remain between your teeth. When plaque isn’t removed through brushing and flossing, it will erode your tooth enamel and cause inflammation in your gums. This can lead to the early stage of gingivitis, which, if not treated, can result in facial distortion, damage to your jawbone, and the loss of your teeth.
It’s amazing that this can all be prevented by a strand of dental floss, but that’s the case. Researchers have found that people who have poor dental health have a higher incidence of serious diseases such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease, obesity, and pneumonia. People in a high-risk category for developing gingivitis and cavities should be especially assiduous in their oral hygiene habits. If you have a dry mouth due to medications or physical conditions, you may be more prone to developing dental issues because your saliva continually flushes bacteria from your mouth.
There’s a right way to floss, however, so that you receive the maximum benefits from it. Use about 18 inches of floss – you may find it helpful to loop it once or twice around your index finger on either end – and insert it between two of your teeth. Gently and carefully pull it back and forth between your teeth and along the surface area of your tooth. Use an up-and-down motion to clear any food particles from between your teeth and gums. Repeat for every tooth and use a new section of floss each time, then rinse your mouth thoroughly.
Kids Need to Learn Correct Flossing Techniques Too!
It may be challenging to teach a toddler how to floss, but your success will be a significant reward! Flossing for kids is as important as it is for adults, and the earlier they start, the better. As soon as your child has two teeth that abut, they’re ready to learn to floss. Be patient and tailor the instructions to their learning level, and they’ll have the foundation for a lifetime of good oral hygiene habits. It might be easier to make a game of the procedures using tips such as the following.
Five Ways to Have Fun While Flossing With Kids
- Rewards for success: Buy or make a flossing chart and place it at their eye level on the bathroom wall. Add a star or sticker for each day that they floss, then reward them after several consecutive days of flossing. Rewards can be as simple as a favorite meal or staying up late one night.
- It’s game time: Flossing time can become game time when you add music to dance to or a story or an adventure. Use your imagination to turn this into quality time.
- Use tiny tools: Adult flossing apparatus is very boring, but kids have brightly colored floss sticks – some are even fluorescent! – as well as small flossing tools that are easier for them to hold.
- Prolific praise: Everyone responds better to praise when they’ve done a good job, so reward your child with an abundance of praise when they floss. Don’t be fake about it, though.
- Follow the leader: You can’t expect your kids to floss if you don’t floss, so be sure that you set the example by flossing at least daily, and you’ll all benefit!
Learn the Four Easy Steps to Flossing Success
The American Dental Association provides the following information about flossing so that you can learn to floss easily and correctly.
- Wind: Grasp about 18 inches of dental floss between your thumbs and index fingers and pull the floss taut.
- Guide: Use your index fingers to guide the floss between the top and bottom of each tooth.
- Glide: Move the floss up and down between your teeth and back and forth so that you remove all the food particles. Make sure to use a gentle motion, so you don’t damage your gums.
- Slide: Make sure to move to a clean section of floss for each tooth, so you don’t put debris from one tooth between two others. Then, move the floss up and down over the tooth’s surface and under the gum line.
Some people dislike regular floss or think it’s too cumbersome, but those people will be delighted to know there are alternatives. Hand-held flossers are available and work similarly to regular floss, except you hold the handle instead of the floss. Hand-held flossers are available in either manual or electric models, but both work the same.
If you or your child has braces or other dental appliances, be careful not to get the dental floss tangled in the appliance. Your dentist can provide you with information on orthodontic floss threaders that will work in smaller spaces. They use standard dental floss, although you can buy special orthodontic dental floss if you need it.
By flossing at least once daily, both you and your kids will develop a habit that will keep you both physically and orally healthier. Flossing is generally a simple procedure, but if you have a unique situation or you have questions, then call Diamond Spring Dental Associates at (973) 810-5905, and we’ll be happy to help you. We look forward to speaking with you.