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Posted on: April 26, 2021
Why Flossing Is Never a Maybe
You’ve seen them for decades. Slogans such as, “Brush twice a day for good dental health” or similar. Although they were correct as far as we knew at the time, they didn’t go far enough. Researchers now know that you need to floss as well as brush if you’re to keep your mouth healthy.
After you eat, a bacteria-laden, sticky substance forms on your teeth, and if it’s not removed through brushing and flossing, it will start to erode your tooth enamel. It will also cause decay, cavities, and gum disease. If not removed, it will harden and become plaque, which can only be removed by a dentist. Plaque causes inflammation in the gums, and the inflammation can spread throughout your body and cause both oral and physical health issues.
Researchers have linked the inflammation from gum disease to the onset of severe health issues such as dementia, diabetes, heart disease, pneumonia, and obesity, among others. It’s amazing that all this can be forestalled by flossing regularly, but that seems to be the case.
Flossing is good for everyone, no matter their age, but those in a high-risk category should pay particular attention to their oral hygiene. High-risk categories include the elderly, those who already have severe health issues, those who are prone to having a dry mouth, and those who take certain types of medications. You need enough saliva to flush the bacteria from your mouth, which is one of its intended purposes. If you are prone to a dry mouth, then talk to your dentist about possible solutions.
It’s not enough to know that you need to floss. You also need to know how to floss. It doesn’t matter whether you brush first or floss first. It doesn’t matter whether you use waxed or unwaxed dental floss. It doesn’t matter whether you use dental floss, floss sticks, floss threaders, or any other flossing device. The important thing is that you floss correctly so that you receive the maximum benefit of flossing.
Use about 18 inches of floss and grasp it at either end using your thumbs and index fingers. Some people find it helpful to loop the floss once or twice around their index fingers. Gently move the floss down between two teeth and then back and forth around the gum line. Move it up and down between your teeth, then repeat with all your teeth. Use a new section of floss for each tooth and rinse your mouth thoroughly after you floss.
Are Your Kids Flossing Too?
It’s as essential for kids to floss as it is for adults to floss. Not only does it keep their teeth and gums healthier, but it also trains them to practice good dental habits that will last for the rest of their lives. As soon as a child has two abutting teeth, they’re old enough to learn to floss. It may be a challenge at first, but the results will be worth the effort. Since kids prefer a fun learning environment, try to make flossing a fun time for them, and it will be easier for both of you.
Five Fun Ways to Involve Your Kids in Flossing
Teaching your kid to floss isn’t about perfection. Depending on their age, they may lack the manual dexterity to perfect their technique. It’s the effort that counts, so if they make an effort, you have all achieved success.
- Chart their success: Make or buy a flossing chart, and each day that they floss, put a sticker or a star by their name. When they’ve flossed for several consecutive days, provide them with a reward, such as an extended bedtime, a favorite story or movie, or another item of their choosing.
- Fun and games: Floss time can have a party atmosphere with lively dance music or flossing to the beat of a lively tune. Add a story or an adventure or an activity of their choosing.
- Use tiny tools: Adult flossing equipment is boring and bulky, so use brightly colored tools and supplies that are tailored to a child’s small hands. Some floss sticks glow in the dark, and some floss is flavored, so let your child select their flossing equipment.
- Praise them: Your child doesn’t have to floss perfectly for you to praise them. If they’ve made an effort, that’s the important thing. Be genuine in your accolades, though. Kids don’t like phoniness.
- Set the example: You can’t extol the benefits of flossing if you don’t floss, so join your kids and make it family time. Add some family rewards for consecutive days of flossing.
Four Simple Steps to Successful Flossing
Mastering the flossing technique is relatively simple, but the American Dental Association has provided four easy steps you can follow.
- Wind: Use about 18 inches of dental floss. Grasp each end with your thumbs and index fingers and pull the string taut.
- Guide: Use your index fingers to guide the floss between the bottom and top of each tooth, using gentle pressure.
- Glide: Glide the floss smoothly around the gum line and over the surfaces of each tooth.
- Slide: Gently slide the floss up and down over the tooth’s surface, and back and forth at the base of the tooth. Use a clean section of floss for each tooth. When you’ve completed flossing, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly.
If you dislike floss, there are alternatives. A hand-held flosser functions like dental floss, but you hold the handle rather than the floss. Hand-held models are available in manual and electric styles, whichever works best for you.
If you have braces or any other type of orthodontic appliances, then take care not to get the floss tangled in them. Your dentist should have special orthodontic dental floss and floss threaders that may help you floss around your orthodontic appliances. No matter the type of floss or flosser you use, just be careful not to damage your teeth, your gums, or your appliance.
If you’re convinced of the value of learning to floss but have questions about the technique, then call The Foehr Group at (309) 740-4241, and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.