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Posted on: May 6, 2021
Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe
Daily brushing is an excellent start when it comes to establishing and maintaining good oral health, but it’s really only the beginning. You also need to be flossing your teeth at least once a day. Why is this? It’s because flossing is the one thing that you can do at home to rid the crevices between your teeth and gums of plaque and food particles. If you don’t floss, you are putting yourself at an increased risk for dental decay, disease, and damage from bacteria and inflammation that can have far reaching consequences for both your oral and overall physical health.
Why is it important to floss? Flossing protects you from the sugars, bacteria, and debris that stick to your teeth and gums after you eat or drink something. Keeping those sugars on the surface of the teeth will allow them to turn into a type of acid that is full of bacteria that will wear down tooth enamel. That acid then turns into plaque. Plaque is what causes tooth decay, swollen gums and periodontal (gum) disease. You can help prevent all of these inconvenient and oftentimes painful conditions by flossing once a day.
In addition to helping your teeth and gums stay in top-notch shape, flossing can also contribute to your overall physical wellbeing. Researchers have been gathering evidence regarding the link between periodontal diseases and systemic diseases such as diabetes, pneumonia, heart disease and obesity. While more research is needed, many dental professionals believe that the connection lies in the inflammation that oral bacteria cause. Performing the simple action of flossing each and every day may help reduce your risk of developing serious chronic health conditions.
Patients who have severe health conditions or who take medications that lead to dry mouth are more likely to fall prey to tooth decay and gum disease. That’s because dry mouth leads to less saliva being produced within the mouth. Saliva plays an important role in washing bacteria out of the mouth. If you have a condition or are on medication that has impacted your saliva levels, talk to your dentist about what you can do to reduce your risk of chronic oral health issues.
Believe it or not, there is a right way to floss. It involves taking a strand of floss, bringing it to the base of a tooth, and pulling it gently along each side. This gets rid of all of the food particles and plaque in between and around your teeth. This gentle motion should be performed on each individual tooth with a fresh portion of floss.
Why Is it Important that My Kids Floss Their Teeth?
Flossing is a skill that should be taught to children as soon as they begin to grow adjoining teeth. This healthy habit fights plaque, improves breath, cleans teeth, and prevents major oral health problems. Your child should brush his or her teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Getting children started with this hygiene habit at an early age is essential to protecting their dental health.
Can You Give Me Tips on How to Get My Kids to Floss?
- Floss Chart – Children love being able to see their progress. Make a fun chart tracking flossing progress and hang it up in the bathroom that your kids use. They can put colorful stickers on the chart whenever they floss for the day. Once a certain number of stickers has been placed on the chart, you can then provide your child with a reward. Examples of rewards could be a new toy, going to the movies or staying up later than usual.
- Make It Fun – Flossing doesn’t have to be boring. Be creative and play fun music that your kids can dance and floss along to. Tell silly or exciting stories about defeating harmful bacteria with floss. Making it feel fun will make the activity more enticing to your children.
- Get Child Tools – There are many fun flossing tools on the market that are designed just for kids. Floss sticks are one of these products. These brightly colored devices are made to be appealing to children. They are also easy for children to hold onto.
- Highlight Good Performance – Children thrive when they are given positive reinforcement. Make sure you praise them for establishing and keeping up with this healthy habit.
- Lead by Example – Your children will be more likely to pick up and maintain a habit if you are doing it as well. Model good oral hygiene by making flossing a family event.
How Should I Floss My Teeth?
According to the American Dental Hygienists Association, you should perform the following four steps to ensure that you’re flossing properly:
- Wind – Use your thumbs and index fingers and hold onto a strand of floss that is about 18 inches long. Pull the strand tightly between your fingers.
- Guide – Using your index fingers, guide the floss in between each tooth.
- Glide – Use a gentle gliding motion in between each tooth, avoid pulling roughly or forcing the floss into tight spaces.
- Slide – Using a fresh section of dental floss, gently move the floss up and down over the tooth’s surface and beneath the gumline.
Hand-held and electric flossers allow you to hold onto the handle of the flosser rather than the floss itself. If you’d prefer to use one of these tools, your flossing technique will still be the same.
People who have braces or other types of dental work should be cautious to not tangle the floss in their devices. You can purchase orthodontic floss or floss threaders that will make it easier for you to floss around your braces or dental work. You should always be sure to floss as gently as possible to avoid causing damage.
Once you get into the habit of flossing once a day, you will realize how much healthier it makes your teeth and gums. To learn more about how to properly floss your teeth, talk to one of our dental health experts at Gentle Dental of Westland. We’re always willing to give handy hints on this important habit.