While you’ve likely developed the habit of brushing your teeth twice daily, some of you may still not take the time to finish cleaning your teeth with dental floss. If you take the time to use dental floss after your regular oral care routine, you may be surprised by what comes out of your mouth that would have normally stayed inside to leaving a great meal to your oral microbes (bacteria) to feast on which can lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease and even cause tooth decay.
At Washington Center for Dentistry in Washington, D.C., our doctors understand that flossing seems like an inconvenience to many patients. Keep reading to find out why it’s worth the trouble and how much time, money, and effort it can save you in the long run to avoid restorative dentistry and more extensive gum disease therapies.
What are the benefits of flossing your teeth?
Brushing your teeth can’t get all the bacteria out of your mouth. Food remains behind, especially between your teeth, where it gets trapped and breaks down and allows the microbes to thrive by providing a continuous food source. This allows for fermentation and acid production that will eat away the strong and hard minerals the teeth are made of and allow them to become discolored, soft and cavitated (turn into holes) as well as causing gum irritation, bleeding and/or gum infections.
There’s a reason dentists say you should use floss teeth daily. The benefits of flossing include:
Removing food debris and bacteria that brushing can’t catch before it turns into biofilm (plaque)
A reduction in bad breath (halitosis)
The prevention of gum disease (gum swelling and tooth supporting bone loss)
Decreasing your whole body inflammatory response to disease
Decreasing your risk of Diabetes
Decreasing your risk of Heart Diseases like Heart Attacks, Stroke, arterial plaque, athrosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
What’s the best way to floss your teeth?
Patients can use dental floss, tape, or a water flosser to remove food and bacteria between teeth. Water flossers come with their own instructions, but if you choose to use dental floss, it’s essential to follow some basic guidelines to ensure you get the most out of the time you spend flossing your teeth.
Here are some pointers on the best way to floss your teeth:
Use a strip of dental floss about 18 inches long so you can wind up the used spots around your fingers as you move clean dental floss or tape into each crevasse.
Make sure you guide the floss gently between your teeth rather than letting it snap in and disturb your gums.
Slide the floss along the side of each tooth, downward and away from your gumline and hugging the contour of the tooth.
Don’t reuse dental floss since it harbors the bacteria that just came out of your mouth. Dispose of floss or tape right away.
How can I make flossing easier so I remember to do it?
There are a variety of tools available to help you clean between your teeth, and it might require some trial and error before you find the solution that works best for you.
If dental floss seems too time-consuming, you may want to invest in a water flosser such as a Waterpik. This will push a high pressure water spray between your teeth to disturb the microbes and force out any food and rinse the area.
If you simply can’t make flossing a natural part of your daily routine, don’t want to invest in a water flosser, and find dental floss or tape inconvenient, you can also try out dental picks (like Soft Picks by Gum) Keeping these in a nearby bathroom or other convenient place makes them accessible following a meal so you can almost immediately get food out of your mouth and avoid picking at your teeth with your fingers.
Using makeshift or sharp tools to clean between your teeth is not recommended since it can pierce your gums and give bacteria a chance to enter and cause an infection.
Get expert dental care in Washington, D.C.
The doctors at Washington Center for Dentistry provide state-of-the-art technology for all of your dental care needs. However, we’re proponents of preventing tooth decay and gum disease as much as possible.
If you or your family need dental care or advice on maintaining dental hygiene, schedule an appointment at our Washington, D.C. dental office.