Brushing Basics: Flossing
One of my favorite things of being a mother to small children is when you ask them a question you full well know the answer to. For example, asking your two-year old if they had some chocolate at Grandma’s house. Maybe they don’t remember back to earlier in the day, or they think they will be in trouble if they tell the truth, but either way, the chocolate smear all around their face is a dead giveaway.
I am sure the dental hygienist feels this same way every time I go to my cleaning, and she asks me how I have been flossing the last six months. When I answer “Good,” she knows full well I am lying. For some reason, I feel like I must hide the fact that I am horrible at remembering to floss as often as I should.
Just as I answer kindly, with a slight chuckle, to my two-year old who ate the chocolate, the hygienist answers the same to me and gently reminds me of how important it is to take the time to floss daily.
Step Two - Flossing
Flossing is the second thing we can do each day to improve our overall oral health. After some practice, flossing should only take one minute. That small amount of time will make a BIG difference in the health of your teeth. Here are some tips to remember to ensure you are flossing correctly.
- Floss DAILY.
You are encouraged to brush your teeth twice a day, but flossing is encouraged once a day. Morning or night. No matter when but take the one minute each day to floss.
- Use PLENTY of floss.
Don’t skimp on the amount. Pull around 18 inches out of the little box and use ALL parts of the floss. Don’t use the same two inches for all your teeth. Floss a few teeth, then move to a new part of floss.
- Be GENTLE when you floss.
Just as brushing hard can do more damage than good, the same is true with flossing. Be gentle to your teeth, especially if it has been a while since you last flossed. If you hadn’t exercised for three years, you would just signup and run a marathon. Your body would not handle that well. The same is true for your gums. Be gentle!
- SLIDE floss against the side of your teeth.
Flossing is not just about putting the little string in-between your teeth. WebMD encourages flossers to slide the floss against the tooth surface. Start by sliding against the surface of one tooth, then be sure to get the surface of the other tooth. You floss between two teeth. Be sure to get the surface of each one.
- Choose the RIGHT floss for you.
There are a variety of floss in the stores. There are waxed and unwaxed. There are flavored and unflavored. There are tools to help if you have braces or permanent retainers. Don’t skip flossing because you feel it is too hard. Find the right tools to help you succeed.
- There are NO replacements for flossing.
Using mouthwash, brushing, and going to the dentist are all important, but they do not replace flossing. They all work together to improve your oral health.
We all have reasons for not taking the time to floss. We are tired at night, we forget in the morning, it hurts our teeth, it makes our gums bleed, it doesn’t seem that important. Whatever your excuse is, it is just that, an excuse. Forget the excuses and take one minute each day to floss. Your teeth, gums, and body will thank you!