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Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe

You’re probably already aware of the importance of brushing your teeth at least twice a day, but did you know that you also need to be flossing once a day? Brushing your teeth is only the start of establishing excellent oral health. A simple strand of floss is the key to ensuring that your teeth and gums stay happy and healthy. That’s because dental floss is one of the only ways to reach the areas between your teeth and gums that can collect harmful plaque and food particles. Not flossing can lead to decay, disease and damage to your dental health that could have been easily prevented via the use of a skinny strand of floss and just two minutes a day.

Most people are aware of the dangers of plaque. This sticky substance forms over the teeth whenever a person eats or drinks. Plaque contains harmful bacteria that produce acids that attack and wear down the enamel of the teeth. If plaque is allowed to remain within the mouth, it will lead to dental decay, swollen gums and periodontal (also known as gum) disease. Many of these problems can be avoided via daily flossing.

You may be unaware of recent research suggesting that there is a link between periodontal disease and systemic health conditions such as pneumonia, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. While researchers aren’t exactly sure what the connection is, there are some indications that the link may be caused by the inflammation caused by the bacteria in the mouth. Daily flossing helps to rid the mouth of harmful bacteria and makes it less likely that you will develop chronic health conditions.

While everyone should floss, there are some people who need to be sure that they do it once a day, or more often if recommended by their dentist. People who have chronic health conditions or take medications that cause dry mouth are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. This is because dry mouth lessens the production of saliva in the mouth. Your saliva plays an important role in cleansing your mouth of harmful bacteria. Less saliva means more bad bacteria reside in your mouth, wreaking havoc on your gums and tooth enamel. If you have dry mouth, talk to your dentist about what you can do to reduce your risk of developing oral health issues.

Did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to floss? The right way to floss involves you taking a lengthy strand of floss and bringing it to the tooth’s base. You then carefully pull the floss along the sides of the tooth. This gets rid of food particles and plaque in the crevices of your mouth. You should repeat this motion on each tooth with a fresh portion of dental floss.

Why Kids Also Need to Floss Their Teeth

Just like adults, kids should be flossing their teeth once a day. This is an essential element in fighting plaque, cleaning teeth, improving breath and preventing major oral health care issues. While you may want to skip the hassle of teaching your children to floss, it’s important that you take the time to do so. This education should start as soon as your child begins to grow adjoining teeth. When they learn at a young age, children are much more likely to continue healthy habits as they age.

5 Fun Ways to Get Children Flossing

  1. Make a Chart – Incentives and rewards are a popular way of encouraging children to floss. Many parents have had success with creating a flossing chart and placing fun stickers on the chart whenever their children floss for the day. Once a certain number of stickers have been placed on the chart, offer rewards like going to the movies, getting a new toy or staying up late.
  2. Game Time – Turn flossing time into fun time by having a flossing dance party or telling a thrilling adventure story about fighting bad bacteria with floss. Turn on a lively song and have your kids floss along with the beat. Using a little creativity will have your children looking forward to taking care of their teeth and gums.
  3. Get Tiny Tools – Another way to make flossing more appealing is to use a fun tool that is made specially for children. Floss sticks are popular because they are made to fit small hands and are easier for kids to hold. They also come in fun colors. Since these devices are so small, many children need to use more than one in order to get all of their teeth flossed.
  4. Offer Encouragement for Good Performance – A little praise can go a long way when it comes to instilling habits in children. Positive reinforcement is one of the best methods you can use in getting your kids to floss every day. It makes your kids feel good and it motivates them to continue flossing.
  5. Lead by Example – Like many things in life, children will mimic your flossing habit. If your children see you flossing, they will be more likely to want to perform this healthy habit too. This not only benefits your child, but it also benefits you!

Easy Steps for Foolproof Flossing

Our dentists recommend that you utilize the following four flossing steps offered by the American Dental Hygienists Association:

  1. Wind – Take approximately 18 inches of dental floss in between your thumbs and index fingers. Pull the strand tightly.
  2. Guide – Lead the floss between the bottom and top of your tooth with your index fingers.
  3. Glide – Use a gliding motion to gently move the floss between the teeth.
  4. Slide – Gently move the floss up and down over the surface of the tooth and underneath the gum line.

Electric and hand-held flossers are available if you don’t enjoy using regular dental floss. The technique is similar when you utilize these kinds of devices. The main difference is that you hold the flosser handle instead of the floss itself.

If you wear braces or have a different dental device, you will need to be careful to not tangle the floss. Special orthodontic floss and floss threaders are available to assist you in navigating in smaller areas of your mouth. Be sure that you are flossing gently so that you can avoid causing damage to your gums and teeth.

If you have questions about how you can properly floss your teeth, contact our experts in dentistry at Gentle Dental of Michigan.

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