The practice of daily flossing is elementary in helping to prevent serious dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease, or periodontitis, affects 75 percent of people in the United States and is known to be a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Gum disease can easily be prevented by brushing and flossing in between the teeth.
Recent research has found a link between the incidence of gum disease and risk of heart disease and stroke. This link is associated with the inflammation that is a factor in both gum disease and heart disease. This research may indicate that by maintaining good dental hygiene, you may also be helping to prevent the development of more serious health conditions.
Reasons for Flossing
Tooth decay is caused by a buildup of plaque in the mouth. Plaque accumulates if we are not in the habit of brushing and flossing our teeth. It can combine with the sugars and/or starches of the foods that we eat to produce an acid that attacks tooth enamel, wearing it down. Dental plaque is also harmful to our gums. It can irritate the gums such that they become red and tender and can bleed easily. Eventually, the gums can start to pull away or recede from the teeth. As a result, bacteria and pockets filled with pus can develop. Furthermore, the bone that supports the teeth may be destroyed, loosening the teeth and requiring that the teeth be removed.
Most people often think that brushing their teeth is sufficient to remove the plaque that forms on teeth. However, while tooth brushing removes plaque that is on the surface of teeth, only flossing can remove the plaque that builds up in between the teeth.
Optimal Flossing Techniques and Types of Dental Floss
Flossing is a quick and easy exercise that is preferably done at least once a day. There are different types of dental floss readily available, including dental tape, waxed floss, unwaxed floss and woven floss. You may ask your dentist to recommend a suitable type for you.
Follow these steps and techniques to ensure that you are getting the greatest benefit from your flossing:
- Choose your preferred type of dental floss.
- Pull off a length of floss that is about 18 inches.
- Wrap one end of the floss around one of your fingers, either the middle or index finger.
- Wrap the other end of the floss around the finger on the other hand.
- Tightly hold the floss between your thumb and finger.
- Gently place the floss in between two of your teeth.
- Gently move the floss back and forth against the tooth on both sides, as well as underneath the gum line.
- Repeat this process in between all of your upper and lower teeth.
- Make sure you floss against the back side of a tooth even if there is no tooth behind it.