Even if you’re already flossing twice daily as recommended by Dr. Alla Brown and Dr. Amanda Newberry at Lanier Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Buford GA, you may not be doing enough to ward off tooth decay and gingivitis (gum disease). While brushing is an vital part of your oral health regimen, flossing is equally important because brushing can only remove the plaque-forming bacteria and particles that are easiest to reach.

This ever-present bacteria, when combined with saliva and food particles, creates plaque. Plaque, a sticky but clear and colorless substance, attaches to your teeth creating a fertile fertile environment for tooth decay to begin. Tooth decay usually takes the form of cavities which will need to be filled but can also develop into infections that may require more extensive and painful treatments.

This where flossing comes to your rescue. Flossing sweeps away the plaque that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth. However, it only works if you are flossing effectively. You may have heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Flossing is that ounce of prevention you can take to avoid tooth decay and the painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that can become necessary when tooth decay is allowed to flourish unchecked between teeth.

How to Floss

1. Wrap a length of floss about eighteen inches long around each of your middle fingers. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss between your teeth. You should wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the soiled floss toward the finger with the least around and access a fresh length.

2. Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” (back and forth) motion all the way from the top of the space between teeth down to your gums.

3. Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently slide up and down your tooth. Repeat this several times, making sure to go slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. Do this for every tooth.

4. Again be sure to win the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss. Do not reuse floss! Bacteria that has been removed on floss can linger and make you sick if reintroduced later.

More Flossing Tips

Don’t worry too much if you see some bleeding from your gums as you floss. A little bleeding is perfectly normal if you haven’t been flossing regularly. This bleeding is from the inflammation caused by the bacteria dwelling there. If you begin flossing daily as recommended by your Drs. Newberry and Brown, you should see an improvement in the health of your gums in one to two weeks.

Some patients prefer to use floss picks.  These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are readily available at most drugstores and big box stores. However, dentists prefer patients use a length of “free” floss and your hands. Floss picks don’t allow for proper flossing due to the fact that you cannot wrap them around a tooth as recommended. However, it’s still better than not flossing at all.

Most dentists agree that flossing after your brush is best as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss.  If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 678.359.4707 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Brown or Dr. Newberry at Lanier Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Buford GA today.

Posted in: oral hygiene habits