All You Need to Know About Flossing
One of the first steps to take in improving your dental care is by flossing daily, and dentists suggest doing it from the age of 12. A soft, thin thread, there are many types of dental floss to choose from, and it is important you use the right one for your teeth.
Why Should We Floss?
Even with advancements in toothbrushes, there is a limit to how well they can clean interdental spaces and down to the gum line. Flossing allows you to clean the areas you are unable to reach with a brush, preventing the build-up of plaque. Flossing also dislodges food particles and reaches under the gum line where bacteria can get trapped. Daily flossing also makes your teeth feel cleaner, fresher and whiter.
Types of Floss
The type of flossing product you use depends on the teeth you have. For teeth close together, you may prefer a waxed, thin floss to slide into the tight gaps. If you have large gaps between your teeth, you may prefer dental tape. If you have braces, a spongy floss might be preferred. You can also choose between the floss being mint-flavoured or not.
Nylon is the most common component of floss due to its ability to be stretched into thin strands and doesn’t break easily. Floss is available with a wax coating or without. Using a wax-coated floss means it glides over the tooth easily, but it adds thickness. If you struggle with gripping floss or reaching into your mouth, there is also flossettes to use, where the floss is pre-cut and pulled between the plastic.
Symptoms to Observe
When flossing, there are symptoms you should keep an eye out for, which could indicate larger dental problems. This includes red or swollen gums, an increase in sensitivity to your gums or teeth, bleeding gums, pus around teeth and gums and loose teeth. If you find these symptoms occur consistently, then you should talk to your dentist.
To get the best results from flossing, you should use some proper techniques. This means using a decent length, around 45cm. This is so you will have a clean segment of floss for each gap, and enough to go around the whole mouth. Of course, you can just use more floss if need be.
Make sure the floss between your hands is taut, using your fingers to guide the thread. Don’t be overly energetic – this can cause your gums to bleed. Gently but firmly contour around the side of the tooth, angling the floss against the tooth so you can get right to the gumline.
Don’t forget to floss both sides of your teeth and at the back; you can’t often see with your eye where there has been a build-up of plaque. Your back teeth are harder to reach, and the grooves and ridges designed to help chew your food can collect food particles which increase the risk of cavities and bacteria.
Dentists, whether private or NHS, advise that you floss or undergo interdental cleaning every day. Various clinical studies have found benefits of flossing in its removal of plaque compared to just brushing.
For more tips on dental care or teeth whitening, take a look at our previous blog posts and teeth whitening strip reviews.