We get rid of plaque and bacteria every day by brushing our teeth. But that’s not the only place where plaque and bacteria builds up. It also occurs in between your teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Those spots are what floss is designed for. Flossing helps to reduce plaque, improve gum health, decrease the chance of cavities and prevent bad breath. The problem is, only 10-40% of people ever floss and almost everyone is doing it wrong.
If you are looking for a healthy New Year’s resolution this year, make flossing a part of your daily dental routine!
If you’ve only been flossing in between your teeth you’ve actually been doing it wrong. Scientists who suggest that flossing may not be beneficial are basing that finding on people who are doing it improperly. Evidence suggests that when done correctly, flossing does help to reduce plaque, food build-up and bacteria.
So what’s the proper way to floss? Think back to your last dentist visit, and you may remember:
- Eighteen inches of floss should be wound around the middle fingers and held taut.
- Pinch the floss between the thumbs and forefingers for better control.
- Remember, you have two tooth surfaces to floss between each tooth! Once the floss has been inserted between the teeth, pull it to wrap around one tooth, moving it up and down rather than side to side, then pull it against the contour of the adjacent tooth and slide it up and down, before removing the floss from between the teeth.
- Start at the very back of the upper right teeth and work your way around the top.
- After the top teeth are flossed, start at the back left corner of your lower teeth and work your way around to the right side.
- Floss should slide between the teeth and up around the curvature at the gum line. This is where many people fall short on flossing.
- Flossing at night can be more beneficial than during the day. This is because there is less saliva produced when you’re sleeping.
- Use waxed floss – it slides easier and is less likely to shred.
- Choose wider, tape floss when possible. It covers more area and is less likely to injure the gums.
- Be gentle and move floss in slow, controlled motions.
- Floss behind the back teeth as well.
Dentists stress that flossing needs to be done daily in order to provide the most plaque-fighting benefits. When done correctly it only takes about a minute to floss. Make it a resolution to devote just 60 seconds to flossing at least once a day, whenever is most convenient for you.
Flossing Tips for People with TMJ
People with TMD sometimes have a more difficult time flossing due to the pain it can create. However, dentists say it’s still important to floss every day. The tips below will make the process easier and help to reduce any discomfort.
- Use a floss pick instead of traditional floss. Floss picks make it easier to reach the back teeth.
- Don’t overextend the jaw by opening the mouth wider than necessary.
- Use waxed floss so that the process is easier and less time consuming.
- If you have to skip a day of flossing use a mouthwash in its place.
MedCenter TMJ is concerned about all of your dental health needs. We can even teach you how to floss the right way. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online!