Oct 10, 2018

Practicing oral hygiene starts with brushing, which is an essential step in maintaining a healthy mouth in between dental visits. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to protect your entire mouth from tooth decay and gum disease. The other essential step is flossing, and it’s not just for removing food debris caught in teeth. It’s also key for removing a substantial amount of cavity-causing plaque that a toothbrush cannot reach.

If you don’t know how to practice proper flossing technique, that’s okay. A general dentist in Venice knows the best way to do it (as well as alternatives for individuals who find it difficult.)

Why is flossing necessary?

When you’ve just had some ribs and corn on the cob, it can be really satisfying to remove the excess food particles from between your teeth. Flossing after a meal is also key to preventing oral bacteria from festering off the food debris, multiplying and releasing plaque acids that destroy tooth enamel. However, this is not the only purpose flossing provides. It also works to remove plaque from areas that a normal brush cannot. It doesn’t matter if it’s a manual or an electric brush, no other tool other than floss can get the job done.

In fact, brushing only reaches about 60 percent of your essential oral structures. The sides of teeth as well as the deep pockets along the gum line aren’t touched if you only use a toothbrush. Once you floss, you can rest assured that your entire mouth is clean and plaque free.

How do I floss?

Flossing before bed may be safer than in the morning since your mouth is more vulnerable to decay and bacterial growth as you sleep. For this reason, it’s also worth using a fluoridated mouth rinse for additional protection as your mouth dries out through the night. Regardless, flossing just once a day can make a big difference in your long-term oral health.

When you do floss, make sure to do it before brushing. This allows the fluoride to more effectively seep into the pockets opened up by the floss. Pull out at least 18 inches worth, wind it around your fingers, then gently slide it between each tooth. Rub it up against each tooth and go up and down as you reach the gum line. Repeat this on each tooth, including the back teeth.

What if flossing is too difficult?

Flossing can be difficult at first, especially if it’s been a long time since you last did it. However, practicing at least once a day will make it easier as you commit to the habit. If your floss isn’t sliding between your teeth easily, purchase a monofilament or “glide” variety. This floss is much thinner and easier to use.

If you struggle to floss, purchase floss picks and use these instead. These come with plastic holders that make flossing significantly easier, especially for those who lack the dexterity. Just make sure to keep them away from children as they can be a choking hazard.

Flossing becomes second nature once you realize how effective it is at protecting your teeth and gums. Ask the dentist in Venice at your next scheduled appointment for tips on improving your technique!

About the author

Dr. R. Scott Thompson earned his DDS degree from the Emory University School of Dentistry. He works hard to provide high-quality dental care to people of all ages. Whether you’re flossing for the first time ever or the first time in many years, he’s more than happy to provide tips. To get more tips you can use every day to protect your smile, he can be contacted through his website.