We usually see patients who nod enthusiastically when asked about brushing their teeth daily but are hesitant or sheepish when asked about flossing them. Why is this so? Let's explore the importance of flossing daily for a healthy and beautiful smile.
Daily flossing is very important to maintain good oral health: It helps to remove plaque and debris in between teeth. Plaque that is not removed leads to tartar or calculus formation, and this is the start of gum disease. Plaque left in between teeth also can lead to cavities. Flossing or other interdental cleaning is important to remove plaque from the areas where a toothbrush can't reach.
Incorporating flossing in your daily routine will serve you well for a lifetime of good oral hygiene and less risk of gum disease as well as tooth decay or cavities in future. Good oral hygiene habits reduce halitosis (bad breath) and help to improve the appearance of your mouth as well, keeping your confidence and motivation levels high. Flossing only takes about 2 – 3 minutes. It is recommended to do it at night to make sure debris is removed from between your teeth before you settle for the night.
Interdental brushes can also be used as an option. They can be more effective for interproximal plaque removal than floss as suggested by several studies. Depending on the tooth contacts between your teeth, you can use a combination of flossing and interdental brushing that works best for you.
Let's look at the options..
Type of Floss:
Nylon (or multifilament) floss: It is may be waxed or unwaxed made of about 35 strands twisted together. These are cheap and easily available from any supermarket or pharmacy. They can be stiffer and slightly harder to use than the PTFE tapes listed below.
PTFE (Polytetrafluorethylene) floss: It is similar to the material high-tech Gore-Tex fabric. The material slides between the teeth easily and is less likely to shred compared to standard floss. This would be like the Oral-B Satin floss, which is easily available and easy to use. Glide is also a good make, but slightly harder to find in the UK.
Dental tape is commonly used. It is broader and flatter than standard floss and comes in waxed or unwaxed versions. Usually people find dental tape more comfortable to use than standard floss. We like Oral-B Satin tape which is easily available; it is so thin and can slide in between all teeth, no matter how tightly squeezed together they are! Glide also has a good version, but is slightly harder to find in the UK.
Electric Flosser: It is an alternative for people who find difficulty in using normal floss.
There are two types of Electric Flosser one is the Air Floss in which air jets are used like puffs of air to clean between the teeth and around the gums, with the amount of water used by an air flosser being less than the amount of water used by a water flosser.
A water flosser like a Waterpik produces a pulsating stream of water which is used like a mini-jet to clean in between teeth. Warm saline solution or mouthwash solution can be substituted instead of water. It can be a little messy to start with, but once you get the hang of it and develop your own preferences with the power of the jet spray, it is easy to use and very effective as a flossing alternative. It leaves your mouth feeling refreshed and is excellent for those who find flossing difficult. :) There are also different heads to adapt to your own oral condition, for example if you have braces, the electric flosser is excellent for getting food out after each meal.
Whatever method you choose, flossing is very important for your daily oral health routine so we would advise you to pick what works best for you to keep you motivated to keep on flossing daily. :)
How to floss around braces?
Orthodontic patients who are wearing fixed braces must be very careful and should choose waxed vs unwaxed floss which is more slippery and easily caught around braces which can disturb their alignment or can cause breakages. Interdental brushes are probably a better option to minimise breakages of the braces unless you are super dextrous. Electric flossers would probably be an even better option as they provide an effective alternative to flossing, and are also great to use for social and comfort reasons after meals when food is stuck around the braces. :)
What to do when my gums bleed when flossing?
If you haven't been flossing for some time, your gums are likely to bleed when you start. Do not panic, this is expected as your gums are likely inflamed. Please persist with flossing, and once the inflammation of your gums improves, the bleeding should stop after a few days.
Artiste Studios enjoys educating patients on how they can take good care of their teeth at home, so if you have questions about why or how you should floss, we can help you. Call us to schedule a hygiene session with your own dedicated oral health advice on 0208 563 2864. We look forward to helping you achieve your best smile. :)