Here’s something you may not know – nearly half of the surface area of your teeth is between them. This means you can easily miss them with a toothbrush.
And no, we’re not telling you this so you can ace your next trivia night.
If you’re solely relying on brushing, you’re not cleaning a large portion of your teeth effectively, which can harm the health of your teeth and gums. This is why flossing should be an essential part of your oral care routine and not an optional extra.
Flossing can help remove the plaque from between your teeth, which helps prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath (halitosis). That’s a lot of upside for just a couple of minutes spent each day flossing.
Make it a part of your routine
It’s best to floss when you’re not in a rush or too tired to do it justice. If you’re too tired at the end of the day, floss in the morning or after lunch. Or floss before cleaning so it’s done before you have to think about it. If you have kids, they should begin flossing as soon as they have two teeth in contact. You should help them until about the age of 10 or until they are coordinated enough to floss on their own.
But I have braces!
If you have braces, a bridge, or implants it is extremely important to floss correctly and regularly. You may need to use a greater floss width, incorporate interdental cleaners into your routine, or use a floss threader to get to difficult areas around braces or bridges. Your dentist will show you the correct flossing technique and discuss the best options for you.
How to floss
Your dentist can show you the correct flossing technique which should involve the following basic steps:
1. Wind about 45cm of floss around your middle fingers and grip it tightly between your thumbs and index fingers.
2. Keeping the thumb and forefingers close together, gently guide the floss between the teeth, taking care not to cut or damage your gums with abrupt movement. You should use a side-to-side motion to ensure the sides of both teeth are cleaned equally.
3. To clean the ‘neck’ of the tooth, which is the point where it meets the gums, curl the floss and insert it gently under the gum.
If you find that this technique is too difficult, then consider using a floss threader (a nylon loop through which you thread the floss) or floss pick (the floss is held taut between two prongs on a handle) to do the job. Your dentist can also demonstrate correct flossing techniques.
3 THINGS THAT MAKES FLOSSING EASIER
1. Learn the correct technique – A dental professional can teach you the right technique so you can floss efficiently from the word go.
2. Use a floss threader – Ideal if you have braces or a bridge, these are loops of fibre that thread floss into small places around your teeth.
3. Use a floss pick – Made up of two prongs with dental floss strung between them, they’re perfect if you struggle with traditional flossing techniques .
You can find your nearest National Dental Care practitioner online here.