Published: 07/13/2019

Each individual is a unique person, and has unique teeth. Some people have teeth closely together, others have spaces between teeth. Regardless of how much space you have between your upper and lower teeth, the food we consume gets into the spaces between the teeth. Flossing is the way we clean these spaces between teeth to remove food particles from teeth.

Flossing involves holding a piece of string with your fingers and pass it through the spaces between the teeth .The dentist shows you how to clean your teeth with flossing during your first visit. It is a technique of wrapping a soft string around fingers of your right hand navigating it inside and out between your teeth and below the gum line to remove bacteria and plaque that cause gum disease.

Flossing for the first few times is not easy. After practice, you will learn how to floss and remove food particles from between the teeth. Many people use toothpicks to remove food debris. Interdental brushes and water flosser are also available for this purpose.

Is flossing important?

Yes, flossing is important because it removes food stuck between teeth. It also removes food particles at gum line. These are difficult to reach places for tooth brush. It is as important as brushing the teeth, but some dentists agree that at least once a day, before going to bed; you should floss your teeth.

Interdental cleaners do the same job as flossing strings, which is to remove food particles from in between teeth and around the gum line, and places where tooth brush can’t reach.

Some doctors suggest that if you don’t floss, although you may think you are brushing your teeth regularly, you are compromising on the health of your teeth. Flossing can prevent major dental health problems which get out of hand by the time we realize how much damage has already been caused.

It is estimated that 90% of the population has not yet grasped the importance of flossing and are not regulars for flossing.

Cavities and flossing

Food particles and plaque that elude the tooth brush come out of their hiding place with flossing from between the teeth. These food particles stay in their place causing bacteria to grow uninterrupted till it comes to a stage where damage has already been done.

Many dentists consider flossing critical and equally important as brushing if not more. Flossing is one of the main aspect in preventing tooth decay and cavities.

It is believed by the practicing dentists that cavities in children and young adults are caused by food particles and sugar sticking between teeth and at the gum line. The sugar in the foods sticks at the gum line and starts gum diseases like cavities.

When the bacteria multiply by feeding in the mouth, they produce an acid which shatters the outer shell of your teeth and cause cavities.

 Plaque and flossing

Without flossing, the sugar in the food stick between the teeth and at the gum line, and allows a thin film to form, called plaque.  This thin film is the breeding ground for bacteria which feeds on the sugar and releases acid which eats away the outer covering of the tooth at the base. Slowly, plaque hardens and turns into tartar, a rough substance that collects along the gum line leading to gum diseases. Tartar is a hard substance which cannot be removed by brushing at home. Only the dentist can remove it professionally.

Products to be used for flossing

When something is stuck between teeth and irritating you constantly, you would like to remove it immediately. It is likely that you are tempted to use whatever comes to your hand to clean it right away, like, fingernails, folding papers in a cone, fork, knife, spoon, and even a strand of hair!

These are not only less effective than traditional flossing tools, but also harmful. It may injure your gums and lead to pain and infection.

It is best to stick to flossing tools that has been design for that purpose. There are dental picks, string floss, water flossers and tiny brushes which reaches between the teeth.

There are many tools that can be used for flossing. It would help you to discuss with your dentist about the choice of tools available to you and also which one would work best for you keeping in mind your ability and what work is going on for your dental treatment.

Dental Picks works for most people as it can remove food debris from hard to reach places in the mouth.

Water flossers work best for people who have trouble flossing by hand. It also works for people who are going on with their dental work and find it difficult to reach between teeth. When treatment is going on for braces and fixed bridges, for example, the dental pick may be difficult to use.

When should you floss?

The most import thing about flossing is doing it. When to do it is secondary. What counts is the job being done thoroughly. Try to spare a good two minutes for flossing. When you have a full day of work, it is advisable to avoid flossing at night as you may not do justice to flossing when you are so tired. For such people mornings or afternoons after eating food would be preferable. Some people are rushed in the morning, in a hurry to reach the office and work. Such people may prefer to floss before going to bed, with a clean mouth.

What age should children start flossing?

There is no age limit to start flossing. As soon as the child has two teeth which touch each other, flossing should start. Flossing needs control over hand muscles and dexterity to be done properly, which children get at the age of may be 10 or 11. Till the children are able to floss thoroughly,  parents need to help them.

How do you know you are flossing properly?

The most important thing to remember about flossing is that it should not be painful. Do not be hard on your teeth, or you may damage tissues between teeth. At the same time do not be too gentle, or you may not remove the food particles from between the teeth. You may feel some discomfort when you start flossing, but slowly you will realize how hard, how soft you must use your string. With daily practice, you will stop feeling discomfort and master it. But if the pain persists, talk to your dentist.

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