What is dental flossing?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is an essential routine that should be followed by one and all on a routine basis. Avoiding a sugar-rich diet and a healthy habit of brushing twice daily helps keep your mouth clean. But flossing the teeth aids in removing plaque and bacterial biofilm from the interdental surface (the contact surface between two teeth) of teeth, providing an overall hygiene maintenance solution for your mouth.
Dental plaque, if not removed for a longer duration from the tooth surface, aids in tooth decay and gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Also, bacterial accumulation on the tooth’s surface or in and around the gums may lead to oral malodor and other oral infections. Dental flossing is a one-stop solution to remove those clingy bacterial films and dental plaque from the surface a toothbrush cannot reach, like in between the teeth surface or at the end in the third molar or wisdom tooth area.
Why is it important to floss?
A national poll in the United States shows that out of 10, only 4 Americans use dental floss to clean their teeth for a single time during the day, while 20% of the Americans have never flossed their teeth. This proves that a dental flossing exercise is not considered by most people, despite its importance in maintaining oral hygiene.
A combined daily exercise of brushing and flossing helps remove the food particles stuck between the teeth. The pattern to follow is to floss first and then brush your teeth. Dental flossing will pick up all the stuck food particles or bacterial biofilm from the tooth’s surface, while tooth brushing will aid in removing all these particles from the mouth. If you follow a brushing routine first, the food particles and plaque remain in the mouth for a more extended period, i.e., till you brush again.
To maintain an excellent oral hygiene practice, American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing at least once daily. It’s essential to floss daily, but the followed technique is of utmost importance.
What is the proper technique for flossing your teeth?
A proper flossing technique has to be followed to get the maximum benefits out of it. The steps to follow in the correct order are described as follows:
- Take about 18-24 inches of long floss, then wind it around the middle fingers of both hands while leaving an inch or two of the floss on both sides to work with.
- While holding the floss tightly between your thumb and index finger, gently slide it in an upward and downward direction between the tooth surface.
- Try to follow the gum line around the base of each tooth, and go a little deeper without forcing or snapping the dental floss in the soft tissue.
- Every time you change the tooth surface, try using a new and clean section of the floss.
- Now, while removing the floss from the tooth surface, again use back-and-forth movement. Try removing it very carefully without applying any undue force or pressure. Broadly, two techniques can be used for dental flossing. These are:
It is also known by the name the finger-wrap method. In this method, the major part of the floss is winded around the middle finger, and the remaining floss is around the middle finger of the opposite hand. Now, place the floss between the tooth surface, making a C-shape, and clean the interdental tooth surface with a gentle back-and-forth motion.
It is also called a circular method of dental flossing. In this method, make a loop out of the dental floss and place all the fingers within the circle except your thumb. Use your index finger to guide the lower teeth surface while your thumb is for the upper teeth.
You can use the two methods mentioned above based on your choice and comfort to floss around your tooth surface. Nowadays, plastic floss picks with a handle and a curved end that holds a small piece of dental floss. It is quite feasible to use, especially in children who find it difficult to floss in conventional ways.
If you don’t like to floss your teeth with thread-like floss material, then there is an oral irrigator technique, including a water pick or flosser, for your convenience. This is a toothbrush-shaped device with a water reservoir that forces a jet of water between the tooth surface at a 90-degree angle that ejects all the food particles out of the interdental areas.
What are the different types of dental floss?
There are a variety of dental flosses available in the market. The selection of floss depends on both your choice and comfort. Some material is designed to be used in much tighter interdental spaces, while others are used in more expansive spaces between teeth. Some dental floss variety includes:
It is a much broader, more comprehensive, ribbon-like dental floss designed to be used in more expansive spaces or on tooth surfaces with braces.
It is a thin, nylon strand with the property to fit in much tighter interdental spaces. It is further classified as waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored.
These types of dental floss are structured to be used with braces, tooth bridges, or gaps.
A regular toothbrushing habit with dental flossing is a healthy habit that will further assist you in maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. Apart from this, a balanced diet and regular visits to your dental professional will aid in the longevity of your teeth and gums.