No matter how hard the bristles of your brush are or aggressive the technique you use to brush, brushing your teeth alone will not clean between the teeth. Along with brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing at least once a day helps to clean your teeth surfaces and helps in the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay. In fact, flossing your teeth is the single most important factor in preventing gum disease or periodontal disease, a disease that affects more than 75 percent of the US population. This is because most people fail to floss, and those that do often find that they are not doing it correctly.
You should floss your teeth on a daily basis before brushing. If you are only going to floss once a day, the best time to floss is in the evening before you retire. If you brush without flossing, you miss nearly 40 percent of tooth surfaces. Think about if that you're your whole body that you consistently fail to wash 40 percent of. Sooner or later, people will notice. The same thing happens in your mouth as bacteria build up between your teeth, leading to bad breath and gum disease.
Learning the art of dental flossing takes time and patience. A good dental professional will show you how to floss properly. If they do not offer to show you, ask. There is no dental floss that is better than another. The type of dental floss you use depends solely on your personal preferences. There are waxed flosses, coated flosses, Teflon flosses, flavored flosses and floss picks. Try some and see what works best for you. To floss correctly, follow the steps below to enjoy clean, disease free gums and teeth.
1. Cut a piece of floss approximately 18 inches in length. Wind the floss around your two index fingers, middle fingers, or thumbs. Decide which combination is most comfortable to you.
2. You need to hold the floss tightly, leaving approximately an inch in between your fingers holding the floss. Next, guide the floss between teeth removing plaque and debris by moving the floss up and down against each tooth.
3. Floss down to the gum line. At this point pull the floss into a U-shape against the tooth. Carefully slide the floss between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Be careful to avoid the triangular papilla between the teeth.
4. Hold the floss against the tooth. Carefully scrape the tooth's side, moving the floss away from the gum. The cleaning takes place on the outward sweep, so do not traumatize yourself trying to get the floss in to tight places. In order to clean both sides, insert the floss twice into each space between your teeth (the inter dental space).
5. You will now want to repeat this for all of your teeth. As you approach the back teeth, get a fresh section of floss. Make sure you get all your teeth even though some may be difficult to reach.
Create a habit of flossing your teeth in the same way. This will help you not to forget any teeth each time you floss. Also, take care not to floss too aggressively. Just like when you brush your teeth too hard, damage to the gums can occur, so be careful to avoid flossing too hard against the gum line. If you have not flossed for a while, you may find that your gems bleed and are sore for the first few days when you start flossing. This does not necessarily mean that you are being too aggressive. Bleeding gums are common when you are first starting but will heal as the plaque is broken up and the bacteria are removed. After flossing for several days, your gums will toughen up and should not bleed.
If you are experiencing difficulty flossing, your dentist should be able to show you some techniques or alternatives to regular floss. Just remember, if you were to toss out your toothbrush, and floss properly once or twice every day, you will achieve better dental health than just brushing three, four, or even ten times a day.