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Why Flossing Is A Must, Not A Maybe

Everyone should have been taught the importance of brushing their teeth two times each day at a minimum. However, dental experts now want to make it very clear that twice-daily brushing isn’t enough. We need to floss at least once each day, preferably before bedtime, if we’re to have optimal oral health.

After eating or drinking, a sticky film forms on the teeth. This film is called plaque, and if it’s not removed through brushing and flossing, it will begin to attack the tooth enamel and cause inflammation in the gums. Inflammation and irritation of the gums marks the initial onset of gum disease, which is a severe oral health condition. When you brush your teeth, plaque is removed from the surface of the teeth, but your toothbrush can’t reach many of the cracks and crevices where bacteria hide. Thus, the need for flossing.

Dental floss is a very thin strand of nylon that can reach between the teeth and the gum line and remove food particles that can cause decay and inflammation. Amazingly, it’s one of the best tools for maintaining good dental health. Some dentists feel that flossing one time is the equivalent of brushing twice. Not that you should floss and not brush, just that flossing is a highly important component of a good dental health routine. You still need to floss and brush. It doesn’t matter whether you floss first or brush first, as long as you do both.

Not only is flossing good for your oral health, but it’s good for your physical health also. Researchers have linked periodontal disease to serious health issues such as diabetes, dementia, heart disease, pneumonia, and obesity. Flossing at least once daily may help prevent the onset of these diseases.

Anyone who is in a high-risk category should be particularly assiduous in their oral hygiene regimen. If you have a consistently dry mouth, that may place you in a high-risk category because one of the main functions of saliva is to cleanse the mouth of bacteria. A dry mouth can occur due to genetic makeup or as a side-effect of some medications. If you have a dry mouth, ask your dentist for solutions so that you can maintain the best oral health possible.

As important as the action of flossing is, it’s also important to floss correctly. You’ll need about 18 inches of dental floss – waxed or unwaxed, choose whichever you prefer – and grasp it at either end with the thumbs and index fingers. Pull the floss taut, then rub it in up-and-down and back-and-forth motions between two of your teeth. Use a gentle motion and a new area of floss for each tooth. When you’re done, thoroughly rinse your mouth.

Flossing Is for Kids’ Teeth Too!

Teaching children to floss may be a challenge initally, but it will be worth it. As soon as a child has two abutting teeth, they should begin learning to floss. This will help them fight plaque, maintain good dental health, and prevent major dental problems in the future. It will also start them on a lifelong path of good oral hygiene that may also improve their physical health. Kids learn better when learning is fun, so try these easy steps to teach them how to floss.

Motivating Kids to Floss in Five Easy Steps

  1. Success tracking: Make or buy a flossing or oral health care chart and hang it in their bathroom at eye level. After they floss each day, add a favorite sticker or a star to their chart. After several consecutive days of flossing, reward them with a favorite movie, an extended bedtime, or another favorite activity.
  2. Party on: Another way to make flossing fun is to turn it into a dance party with lively music. Floss to the beat, or make an adventure of flossing with floss fighters being the good guys, or be creative on your own.
  3. Tools of the trade: While adult flossing tools are large and boring, flossing tools for kids are brightly colored and small so that they fit kids’ smaller hands. Neon-bright flossing tools and colored or flavored dental floss can make kids eager for floss time.
  4. Well done: Be generous with your praise for each accomplishment. Flossing can be challenging for adults, so make your kids feel good about their accomplishments. Don’t overdo it, though. Kids don’t like fake sentiments.
  5. Follow my lead: Make sure that you floss if you’re trying to teach your kids the importance of flossing. You could also consider making it a family activity and having family rewards for successive nights of flossing success.

Foolproof Flossing in Four Easy Steps

The American Dental Association has provided easy steps for learning to floss. The steps to follow include:

  1. Wind: Using about 18 inches between your thumbs and index fingers, pull the floss taut.
  2. Guide: Guide the floss between the top and bottom of each tooth, using your index fingers to guide it.
  3. Glide: Gently glide the floss smoothly back and forth between the teeth and under the gum line.
  4. Slide: Slide your floss over the entire surface of each tooth, and use a clean section of floss for each tooth. Be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly after you floss.

Not everyone likes dental floss or has the dexterity necessary to use it properly. Hand-held flossers are available that work the same as dental floss, except you hold the handle rather than the floss. Electric flossers are also available, and they work in the same manner.

When flossing around dental work, such as braces or other dental appliances, be careful not to entangle the floss. Your dentist can show you how to use floss threaders or orthodontic floss so that you can floss in smaller areas. No matter the type of floss or flosser that you use, be sure you don’t damage your gums or any of your appliances.

When you become accustomed to flossing every day, it will become second nature. You won’t dream of not flossing, especially when you consider the diseases that can develop due to inadequate oral hygiene (nightmarish for anyone). If you have any questions on how to floss or where to find specialty products, then call Konikoff Dental Associates at , and we’ll be happy to help you.

We look forward to helping you develop lifelong, good flossing habits!

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