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How to floss your teeth
Dr Chris Darby

Dr Chris Darby

Dental Floss: The Hows and Whys

Most dental patients are pretty good at brushing their teeth at least twice a day. This is a great way to protect your teeth and gums from plaque and bacteria, but it’s only part of the battle. Your toothbrush can’t reach in between your teeth and up under the gum line, and this is why daily flossing is so important, if you want to have a healthy mouth and not have your teeth fall out. A healthy mouth does not have gums that bleed. But for most of us, most importantly, if we brush and floss regularly and effectively we you do not have bad breath.

What Happens If I Don’t Floss?

If you don’t floss daily, at least 40% of our mouth will be infected, which means your jaw bone could literally be silently rotting away day by day. Why? Because infections don’t just affect your teeth and gums, they affect the jaw bone that anchors them in place. Once that jaw bone is affected, there’s no way back.

Trillions of germs accumulate in your mouth each day. If they are left to their devices, they burrow through the gum and into the jaw bone. There is no sign of this process except for bad breath and some bleeding. When you go for a dental x-ray, you’ll see the real damage.

So, you really, really need to floss.

Tips For Flossing Effectively

Flossing is about more than putting a length between your teeth and sawing away. Here’s the advice:

  • Choose the Right Floss: Don’t choose the cheapest floss. Choose quality floss and pick one that feels good on your teeth. It does not matter whether it’s waxed or unwaxed, flavoured or unflavoured, just choose one that makes you want to floss. Waxed does tend to slide more easily while taped versions are perfect for gappier teeth.
  • Proper Flossing Form:
    • Grab a 50cm piece of floss
    • Wrap it around your pointer fingers on each hand, multiple times until you have a 5cm section left between your fingers.
    • Place your pointers inside your mouth on either side of a tooth and slide the floss gently between two teeth
    • Wrap it in a ‘C’ shape towards the back of your mouth and slide it 2-3mm under the gum where a lot of bacteria hides and can cause infection.
    • Rub it up and down a couple of times. Then wrap the floss in a C shape towards the front of your mouth and again rub up and down 2-3 times and then gently slide it out from between the two teeth.
  • Be Systematic: Start at the back of your upper or lower jaw, then work your way to the front and then across to the teeth on the opposite side. Just make sure you go between every tooth. So, go from front to back or back to front or whatever makes sense to you. Next do the other jaw.
  • Slide Don’t Tear: You want to slide the floss in between the teeth, so it doesn’t tear your gums. It shouldn’t be an aggressive action, just a gentle rub.
  • Slide the floss between the teeth in a left and right motion. Then wrap in a C shape around a tooth and slide the floss up and done rather than left and right.

As you can see, it’s quite a technical process. The best way to perfect your technique is to get a lesson at the active maintenance appointments Lifetime Holistic Dental offers at your regular, biannual dental check-up.

Don’t worry if you notice any blood after flossing, when you are first learning. This is actually a sign that you are removing bacteria and need continue to floss more. As your gums become healthy, the bleeding will decrease. Just make sure you tell us about any bleeding at your next visit.

What To Do After Flossing

After flossing, you need to rinse your mouth with water and spit to make sure any loose debris and bacteria are expelled from your mouth. Trust us, this will give your mouth the most wonderful, fresh feeling.

Still Not Convinced?

Flossing is an absolutely vital aspect of oral health. You need to floss at least once a day for two to three minutes at a time. This will help protect your teeth, gum and jaw bone from invasive bacteria. An unflossed mouth is an unhealthy and dirty, smelly mouth, it’s as simple as that.

You’ll feel these benefits in no time. Your mouth and breath will be fresher, your teeth will look whiter, and you’ll prevent the need for invasive and expensive dental treatments down the track. Your biannual scale and clean will be virtually painless and, over time, you can even stop sensitivity.

Just some of the issues you can prevent by flossing are:

  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • Gum disease, from gingivitis all the way to advanced stage gum disease
  • Root canal infections
  • Tooth staining
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth and sensitivity to cold foods

The dangers of not flossing can even lead to other health issues. Gingivitis and gum disease can enter the bloodstream and spread to vital parts of your body like your heart and respiratory tract. Gum disease has been linked to low birth weight in newborn babies, as well as to higher risks of diabetes. Flossing that removes dental plaque bacteria can help prevent all of these complications, so it’s time to stop making excuses. Make it part of your daily health routine. Come and let our hygienists watch you brushing and flossing. Ask our friendly team for hints on how to brush and floss most effectively.

If you would like more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.

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