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Posted on: April 26, 2021
Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe
Considering how important it is to floss, a recent study found a high percentage of men and women never actually floss their teeth! Flossing is essential for removing plaque and food debris from between teeth. If you brush without flossing, you risk not cleaning the entire tooth and hard-to-reach areas, like between the teeth where debris and bacteria can hide.
Brushing alone, even twice a day for two minutes at a time, isn’t enough. Our dentist will tell you flossing is just as essential as brushing. Plaque buildup between teeth can cause cavities, bad breath and gum disease. The bacteria in plaque creates an acid that erodes tooth enamel. Food particles trapped between teeth can rot, causing chronic bad breath especially if you don’t floss daily.
If you let plaque accumulate in your mouth, it can lead to gingivitis. Your gums become red and inflamed. The mildest form of gum disease is curable, but without treatment, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious form of gum disease that can eat away at the bone and ligaments that hold teeth in place, which will lead to tooth loss without treatment to control the disease.
Periodontitis can impact your overall physical health. The inflammation and bacteria can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease or a stroke. It can also lead to pregnant women having low birth weight babies and premature births. Periodontitis is also linked to cognitive decline, including conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The best way to prevent an increased risk for certain diseases caused by gum disease is to brush twice a day and floss once a day.
Do Kids Need to Floss?
Children need to floss as soon as two of their teeth touch one another. Since this can happen as early as age two, you will have to floss for them in the beginning. They may only have a few teeth to floss, so it won’t be a major job. Most kids can floss on their own when they are age six or seven if they learn how to do it early. Flossing baby teeth keeps painful cavities from forming between the teeth. Dentists will fill cavities in baby teeth as they serve several important functions, so you want to avoid your child needing a filling. Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth.
If you can see spaces between your child’s teeth, you can still introduce them to flossing. There’s no stress, so your child can slowly get used to the idea. It won’t hurt to clean the sides of their teeth either.
How to Introduce Your Child to the Benefits of Flossing
Introducing your child to flossing at an early age can help them develop a lifelong healthy habit.
- Before you’re ready to start flossing your child’s teeth, take out a book or two from the library about flossing and dental health. Read about the character’s adventures to your child, explaining that they can start flossing soon.
- If you floss at night, make flossing a family affair. Your child will want to imitate your behavior. While flossing, explain how cleaning between your teeth can help prevent cavities and make dental visits easier.
- Make flossing fun. There are free apps online to use while your child brushes and flosses for iOS and Android phones. You can also play a favorite song for them while they floss.
- Let your child pick out their own pre-threaded flossers. They make fun shapes for children to encourage them to become more involved in the process. Small children usually don’t have the motor skills to learn how to floss with string floss.
- Reward your child for flossing using a chart in the bathroom. You could offer a small treat for filling up a week on the chart with star stickers. Keep in mind it is best not to offer them anything sugary or anything that will damage their teeth or ruin the work they just completed! If possible, make the treat a favorite healthy food to encourage your child to enjoy a more tooth-friendly diet. Some parents find a nightly reward, such as reading a favorite bedtime story afterward, works better for their child.
How to Floss Like a Dentist or Dental Hygienist
If you’re going to floss, you want to make sure you remove as much plaque as possible. Dental professionals recommend flossing teeth in the following manner:
- Get an 18-inch piece of floss.
- Wrapping the floss around the index finger of each hand, leaving an inch or so free. You don’t want to leave too much floss free as you will have less control over it. You can also tie the floss in a circle and insert your fingers inside the circle and guide the floss with your thumb.
- Gliding the floss between teeth, gently scrape the sides of the teeth by holding the floss in a C shape. If you’re having trouble getting unwaxed dental floss between your teeth, switched to the waxed version.
- Using a new portion of the floss each time to avoid spreading bacteria. Discard used floss and rinse your mouth.
Many people like unwaxed dental floss because they can hear a satisfying squeak when a side of a tooth is completely clean. If you don’t want to use waxed or unwaxed string dental floss, you have equally effective options. Dental tape is meant for people with wide spaces between their teeth. If you have issues with manual dexterity, you may want to use pre-threaded flossers, which are also ideal for flossing children’s teeth. You can also use an interdental brush, which is a small, thin, straight brush with a handle. If you have braces or a dental bridge, your dentist may suggest super floss or a water- or air-powered flosser. Super floss is a special floss with a stiffened end, a spongy part, and regular floss that will clean between teeth and oral appliances.
If you are not sure if you’re flossing correctly, or you are having difficulty, call Advanced Dental Care of Sarasota East for expert advice from an experienced dental professional. We can tell you if your string floss alternative is effective and if you are missing any key spots.