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Why Flossing Is Non-negotiable

All our lives, we’ve heard from dentists, doctors, advertisers, and probably our parents, about the importance of twice-daily brushing in order to maintain top-notch oral health. Although true, it turns out that it isn’t enough. We need to floss as well as brush if we’re to maintain good oral health. Research has shown that flossing is as important as brushing, perhaps even more so. Some dentists assert that flossing once is the equivalent of brushing twice. This doesn’t mean that you can abandon brushing in favor of flossing, just that you must do both.

After eating or drinking, a sticky, bacteria-laden film coats your teeth and begins to erode the enamel. When it’s not removed through brushing or flossing, it hardens into plaque, which can only be removed by a dentist. When plaque remains on the teeth, it causes inflammation and decay, resulting in cavities and gum disease. As amazing as it seems, this can all be prevented by the addition of flossing to your daily brushing routine.

You can floss before you brush or afterward; it doesn’t matter. You can use waxed or unwaxed floss; it doesn’t matter. You can floss manually or use an electric flosser; it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you floss at least once daily, preferably before bedtime, and don’t eat anything else before you go to bed. Be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly after you floss.

In addition to the dental benefits of flossing, it’s also beneficial for your physical health. Researchers have linked poor dental health – specifically gum disease – to many severe health issues such as dementia, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and pneumonia. Some dentists think that the inflammation caused by gum disease is the root of the problem, and the inflammation spreads to the other areas of the body. Whatever the cause, the addition of flossing to your oral hygiene regimen can benefit both your physical and oral health.

Some people are particularly vulnerable to cavities and gum disease, such as the elderly and those who have dry mouths. One of the primary functions of your saliva is to keep the bacteria flushed from your mouth. When you lack sufficient saliva, this doesn’t happen, and you can develop gum disease and tooth decay. A dry mouth can be a function of age, heredity, lifestyle, or medications, so if you have a dry mouth, talk to your dentist about possible solutions.

In addition to knowing that you need to floss, you need to know how to floss. Use about 18 inches of floss and grasp each end between your thumbs and index fingers. It may also be helpful to loop each end once or twice around your index fingers. Gently guide the floss between two teeth and down to the gum line. Move it back and forth, and then up and down, and around the gum line until you’ve removed any food particles. Repeat this for all your teeth, and use a fresh area of floss each time, then rinse your mouth thoroughly.

Kids’ Need to Floss Too!

Flossing is as essential for kids as it is for adults. When children learn to floss at an early age, it sets them up for positive, lifelong dental habits that will contribute to a lifetime of good physical health. As soon as a child has two abutting teeth, they’re old enough to learn the basics of flossing. Although it may be challenging, the results will be worth the effort. Since kids learn best when learning is fun, use your imagination to turn floss time into fun time. Here are a few examples that may get you started.

Motivating Kids to Floss by Making It Fun

  1. Success shows: Buy or make a flossing chart, and each day that your child flosses, add a star or a favorite sticker. After several successive days of flossing, reward them with an extended bedtime, a favorite movie, or another of their favorites.
  2. Fun and games: Make floss time party time with dance music or an adventure story. Make up a story or use your creativity to act one out.
  3. Tools that fit: Adult flossing implements are boring and bulky, but kids flossing tools are smaller, brightly colored, and the floss comes in flavors as well as colors. Some floss sticks even glow in the dark!
  4. Praiseworthy efforts: Be sure to praise your kids for their efforts and their achievements. Be sincere, though; kids dislike phony praise.
  5. Show the way: You can’t extol the benefits of flossing if you don’t floss, so join your kids for the flossing party. Make it a family event that has family prizes.

Foolproof Flossing in Four Steps

Although flossing can be intimidating to some people, the American Dental Association has provided some simple steps that will resolve any misgivings or issues.

  1. Wind: Snip off about 18 inches of dental floss, then grasp it firmly at either end, using your thumbs and index fingers. It may help to loop it once or twice around each index finger, then pull it taut.
  2. Guide: Control the motion of your floss with your index fingers, moving it gently between the bottom and top of each tooth.
  3. Glide: In a smooth, gentle motion, glide the floss between each of your teeth.
  4. Slide: Using a fresh section of floss for each tooth, continue moving the floss up and down and over the surfaces of the teeth. Be sure to floss the gum line also since this area is prone to attract bacteria. When you’re done flossing, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly. This helps to remove the debris that you have dislodged from between the teeth.

If you dislike dental floss, there are alternatives. A hand-held flosser will work well, and you grasp the handle rather than the floss. Hand-held flossers are available in electric models also.

If you have braces or other orthodontic appliances, be sure not to entangle your floss with your orthodontic apparatus. Your dentist can provide special orthodontic floss or floss threaders that work well in smaller spaces. You can use the same procedure with them that you would with regular floss; just avoid damaging your teeth, gums, or orthodontic appliance.

It may be challenging to get started, but flossing every day in addition to brushing twice each day can be a great modification to your oral hygiene regimen and help you maintain good dental health and good physical health. If you have any questions about flossing or the procedure, then call Taheri Dental Group at , and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

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