Most of us understand the importance of flossing — in theory. We nod our heads when our providers ask us if we floss or say something equally noncommittal like, “Sometimes.” But not only is flossing an essential part of your daily dental hygiene, but it also requires a specific technique (like toothbrushing) to be effective.
We at Grace Dental Group understand the importance of flossing properly. Our provider, Woo Young Lee, DDS, offers regular cleanings as needed but also asks that you do your part at home to keep your mouth healthy.
If you aren’t sure why flossing and doing so properly is crucial, consider this. The CDC reports that nearly 50% of adults 30 years of age and older suffer from periodontal disease. While this seems surprisingly high, it’s unfortunate that many people don’t understand how flossing can help avoid periodontal problems.
Your teeth and gums are constantly being attacked by bacteria. Brushing your teeth often helps the former, but not all the areas of your gums that could be dealing with a buildup of plaque are touched by your toothbrush. You often need floss to get into those hard-to-reach places.
A 2019 study cites the benefits of flossing and brushing one’s teeth to avoid gingivitis, which is harder with just brushing alone. Gingivitis is an extremely common form of gum disease that, while reversible, can quickly lead to periodontitis, a much more severe form of gum disease that can even cause long-term side effects in other parts of the body.
Still, just like many things in life, simply committing to flossing doesn’t mean you’re going to get all the benefits of the practice. Not flossing at all is the cardinal sin, but if you are already a flosser (or ready to start), make sure to avoid these five mistakes as well.
Flossing too quickly means you miss contacting bacteria on the sides of your teeth and gums. If you aren’t picking up any bacteria, there’s no point in flossing in the first place. We know your daily routine may feel like it needs to be rushed, but it’s vital to take your time when flossing.
When you floss hard, you’ll probably have the unpleasant experience that makes many people stop flossing: bleeding gums. However, bleeding could be a sign you need to floss more.
While bleeding gums could potentially be a sign of another issue, make sure you still slow down and floss carefully. Don’t snap the floss down against your gum line, and do so in gentle, back and forth motions. In other words, don’t grind!
Twice a day is the most you should be flossing. If you floss more, you might destroy the gum tissue, leaving your tooth roots vulnerable. If you floss less than once a day, however, you’ll experience an increased buildup of plaque, which can lead to more problems.
Even on the go, you should be able to use something like a floss pick or a water flosser to get food out of your teeth. Choosing to use something else — such as your fingernails, a card or paper, or even your own hair — is a bad idea. Flossing with unsanitary objects only introduces more bacteria into your mouth.
If you are a diligent flosser, then you should already know that brushing first doesn’t give you the benefits flossing first does. For one, the fluoride in your toothpaste works best when it can interact directly with the tooth. For another, you’re weakening the plaque first when you floss, which makes it easier to brush it off your teeth afterward.
Flossing is necessary for a healthy, happy mouth, but flossing properly is just as important.
To visit our San Francisco, CA office, call us at 415-506-5241 or book an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you and your smile!