Flossing is an activity that many patients would rather skip. However, this is often due to underlying reasons. The patient may be unsure if flossing is a necessity, they may not know how to floss correctly, or they may simply not want to take the time to floss. See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics in Santa Barbara, CA understands there are several roadblocks to flossing, and we are here to help remove them! This quick guide will address some of the issues and concerns that stop patients from regularly flossing.
An oral health emphasis usually falls on brushing. While brushing is important, so is flossing at least once a day. The bristles of a manual or electric toothbrush are simply unable to clean between the tiny grooves separating the teeth, and food particles quickly become trapped between them. Furthermore, this issue can become exacerbated with misaligned teeth. Crooked teeth are more prone to catch and hold onto bits of food missed by brushing. Although flossing is a necessity for everyone, it is especially essential for patients with orthodontic issues.
Some patients may neglect this activity because they are unsure of its benefits. However, flossing removes plaque that can otherwise solidify and cause cavities. In addition, flossing helps prevent patients from developing gum disease. Tooth decay and gum disease contribute to halitosis, which is a dental term for bad breath. Regular flossing maintains oral health by keeping the mouth healthy, clean, and fresh. Since oral health has been linked to physical health, flossing is also essential for systemic reasons and general wellbeing.
A common obstacle to flossing is that some patients remain unsure of the proper technique. While flossing seems like it would be straightforward, it is a skill that can take time and practice. This is especially true in the case of dental and other orthodontic wear, such as bridges and braces. The good news is that flossing is still possible. While we will go over the correct way to floss, See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics is also happy to demonstrate how to floss at your next visit:
Do not be afraid to break off a large amount of floss, typically between 18 to 24 inches. You can then wind the majority of it around your middle fingers with 1 to 2 inches left between your thumbs and index fingers.
Insert the piece of floss between two teeth and make an upward and downward motion. The floss should gently glide against both sides of the tooth.
When you reach the bottom portion of the tooth, make a C shape around it to clean between the tooth and gum. However, be careful not to go down too far and pierce the gumline.
This simple process will be repeated for each tooth in the upper and lower arches, and floss can be changed out as needed. In the case of dental appliances like bridges and braces, a floss threader will help get the floss around your appliance so that you can floss as usual.
The time involved in flossing can make it a tedious chore that patients wish to avoid. However, neglecting to floss can lead to devastating dental consequences. If you are not too keen on manual flossing, there are a few inventions that have made it simpler:
While pre-threaded floss still involves manual flossing, it saves time and energy by coming in ready-to-go packaging. It takes time to attach floss threaders to floss, and this must be repeated when more floss is needed. However, pre-threaded floss is an excellent time-saving tool to get over or under dental appliances, including bridges and braces.
Floss picks are one of the simplest ways to floss. You are not required to break off floss or even to purchase floss. Instead, floss is pre-attached to a perfectly sized pick that slides in between the teeth. Flossing with floss picks is as simple as moving from tooth to tooth and cleaning the floss or getting a new pick as needed. There are also special floss picks thin enough to slide under dental appliances, such as braces wires.
Water flossers combine water and pressure to thoroughly clean between teeth and flush out plaque, trapped food particles, and bacteria. Patients who have braces can also use water flossers to ensure the area between their brackets and wires stay nice and clean. There are also alternatives to water flossers that utilize pressurized air and water vapor. These air flossers help avoid a lot of the mess that water flossers can create.
Advances in technology have enabled a variety of flossing methods. Flossing no longer has to be frustrating or time-consuming. No matter which method you choose, the most crucial advice from See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics is to make sure you floss at least once a day.
If you are having issues flossing, you are not alone. Many patients avoid this everyday activity because of its cumbersome nature. However, flossing is essential to remove plaque buildup that regular brushing misses. Correct flossing helps stop plaque trapped between the teeth from solidifying into tartar and causing dental issues. Modern technology has made flossing simpler, and alternatives to regular flossing include pre-threaded floss, floss picks, and electric flossers. Whichever method you choose is up to you, but the essential aspect is that you floss once a day to keep cavities at bay.
See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics will be happy to demonstrate the best way to floss at your next visit! For other flossing questions or to schedule an appointment, contact us at (805) 284-0826.