Besides brushing your teeth, flossing is the next most important investment for healthy teeth and gums. However, people do not floss nearly as regularly as they should. According to a recent survey less than 50% of Americans floss daily and more than 10% do not floss at all. Patients typically floss before visiting the dentist; however, months of not flossing regularly can cause significant damage to your gums and teeth, potentially leading to tooth loss and periodontal, or gum disease. Flossing does not only remove any food debris left after brushing between teeth, but more significantly helps remove dental plaque from teeth, which causes tooth loss. Dental plaque is bacteria that build up on tooth surfaces.
Learning how to properly floss can support healthier teeth and gums. Start by wrapping about 18 inches of floss around your index fingers on both hands and tightly grasp the floss with your thumb and guide it between your teeth. When you reach the gum line, wrap the sides of the floss around your tooth and gently move it up and down the tooth. Repeat on the opposite tooth and continue the process with the rest of your teeth.
If you do not like floss, try using Soft Picks – small tooth picks that help remove plaque and food particles. Also available is dental floss that is pre-strung and can easily be stored in a bag or taken on the go to avoid excuses of not having time to floss or forgetting to floss. These small toothpick like items can be used in the car, in the office or while taking the kids to the park. Take time to floss daily, even if only for a minute. Investing little time at first can help form the habit of flossing daily. Keep your dental floss at your bedside table to help remind you to floss before bedtime or by your toothbrush to floss immediately after brushing.
Flossing can sometimes cause gum bleeding, but it is nothing to worry about. Flossing should not be painful, but some bleeding can be normal. Nevertheless, with continuous flossing, the bleeding should subside within a week or two. If the bleeding does not stop or if flossing is painful, check with your Texas Dentistry for Kids dentist.