Every time you go to see your dentist or hygienist you probably dread those four little words, ‘have you been flossing?’ Let me assure you it is always asked with good intentions.
So why do we care so much about flossing?
As health professionals we aim to have your best interest at heart – your general health. Over the years research has come a long way and there is more evidence to support the links between oral health and general health. With that in mind you should be eager to learn ways that will help to prevent tooth decay, gum disease or better yet heart disease!
The bristles of your tooth brush (despite ‘flossing action’ toothbrushes) do not go into those tiny little spaces between your teeth. Brushing alone is not sufficient to prevent tooth decay or gum disease.
It is becoming more and more common for people to present to our surgery with incipient (early) lesions between the teeth. This is easily prevented with flossing and the right home care.
When should I floss?
Flossing once a day is recommended. It only takes 48 hours for plaque to calcify making it impossible for your toothbrush or floss to remove the calcified plaque – tartar.
Research shows that flossing is most effective if carried out of a night time before bed.
We know that bacteria naturally resides in the mouth making it like a feeding ground for the bacteria to grow if not removed within a timely manner.
During the day our saliva plays a vital role in removing plaque. This is significantly reduced overnight.
If not removed plaque is highly acidic. This leads to a break down in tooth enamel and furthermore tooth decay.
We always encourage our patients to brush thoroughly before bed. Not brushing or flossing prior to bed means that the bacteria thrive and basically have a party in your mouth while you sleep!
Is there anything else I can use to clean in between my teeth?
Yes! When you attend our practice for your regular preventative care appointment we will show you alternate devices for cleaning in between your teeth. We know that not everyone finds flossing to come naturally.
These can include: flossettes, interdental brushes, or even water flossers.
My gums bleed everytime I floss
We hear this phrase day in day out. When we see you for your dental check up we will revise the technique with you. More often than not bleeding is not caused by flossing incorrectly.
Inflammation of the gums, otherwise known as gingivitis is what causes bleeding of the gums. As a general rule if you notice bleeding when flossing it is usually a good indication that you need to floss more regularly.
Flossing takes up to much time
The most common excuse we hear on a regular basis when it comes to flossing is: ‘I just don’t have enough time.’ So basically what you are trying to tell us is that for two minutes in a 24 hour period that you don’t have time to floss? If that is the case why not floss whilst watching TV?
With practice flossing takes less than one minute to go around the whole mouth.
Medical conditions that rely on good oral health
When your mouth is healthy, chances are your overall health is good too. On the other hand, if you have poor oral health, you may have other health problems. The most common diseases linked with oral health include, but are not limited to:
- Heart disease
- Immune disorders
Just remember, a healthy mouth equals a healthy body and if you would like to keep your teeth for the rest of your life then simply ‘floss the teeth that you would like to keep!’