Should You Floss Every Day and Why?
The words oral health and flossing are almost always used together. Dental floss is a thin cord that is used to remove food particles from between teeth. The process is called dental flossing. Along with brushing this is a very important part of personal oral hygiene. Brushing does not remove all the food debris, small particles that are in between the teeth cannot be removed with only brushing.
Studies have shown that about 80-85% of plaque can be removed using this method. Floss was created when highly efficient brushing was not able to remove food debris stuck between teeth. This was in use as early as the late 1800s. From the time of invention, flossing has been considered an important part of dental care.
Types of flosses and techniques
Two common types of flosses are commonly seen. Multifilament and monofilament floss are common types. Multifilament consists of nylon or silk floss and monofilament consist of only one type – this can be either rubber or plastic.
Flosses can also be chosen according to the gap that between teeth. Large gaps between teeth are best cleaned with dental tapes, while small gaps can be cleaned efficiently using waxed floss. There are flosses that are easy to use and easy to dispose. Flossing can also be done by those who wear prosthetic devices like braces or bridges. Spongy floss or a floss threader can be used if prosthetic devices are used. Besides these, there are the electric type of floss and manual floss available in the market and some come in different flavours as well. Do seek help from a dentist if unsure of the one suited for you.
Knowing the right technique to floss is also important. Using floss correctly will help to get rid of food particles and tartar build up in between the teeth. Before flossing, take about 15-18 cm of floss and wind most of it around your middle finger. This will leave only a few centimetres of floss for use. The floss can be held tightly between thumb and index fingers and moved up and down in between the teeth. If one bends the floss a bit, it will help in cleaning the area just near the gum line. Care should be taken to not hurt the soft gum lining with the floss.
A small amount of bleeding can be seen generally when flossing for the first time. As one gets more comfortable with the technique it will become easy to floss daily. If you notice pain or bleeding even after a few days of flossing, it is important to check with the dentist as this would signal gum diseases.
- Flossing controls plaque build up
Flossing only stands second to brushing in maintaining oral hygiene and care. It supplements brushing by helping to remove food debris between teeth. The tiny and hard to reach places between teeth can collect food debris. It is also a good place for plaque and tartar build up. As these tiny places are not touched by brushes, the debris collects there and bacteria act on them and form a thin coating of plaque. If care is not taken, it will add up and harm the teeth. Cavities, tooth decay are all caused by plaque build-up. Flossing helps to clean these tiny areas between teeth and stop any collection of food debris.
- Controls gum diseases
Gum diseases are caused by bacterial action on the gum lining. Plaque gets deposited on the gum lining and if not removed, it starts to irritate the soft gum tissues. Inflammation and bleeding of the gums will the next step. Flossing helps to remove plaque/tartar formation and keeps the gums healthy. If untreated, this can lead to tooth loss.
- Prevents bad breath
Bad breath is caused by dry mouth. Dry mouth causes dead cells on the tongue to arise and bacteria works on these dead cells and releases odour. Though bad breath is primarily caused by the tongue, it can also happen by bacterial action on dead cells in the mouth. Bacteria will act on the food particles left in the mouth and release a foul odour. Flossing acts against this bacterial action by cleaning up the food debris and keeps the mouth clean and free of odour.
- Cuts down infection
Bacterial build up in the mouth usually happens in places where it is not cleaned effectively. Bacteria can cause infection in the gum and tissue lining of the mouth. This infection can travel to other parts of the body and cause infections in areas of low immunity. Heart diseases can also be caused due to infections in the mouth. Studies have also shown a link between periodontal diseases and pneumonia. Daily flossing helps to keep away this type of infection at bay and helps to maintain overall general health.
- Protective oral care
After brushing, one of the most effective methods in preventive oral care would be flossing. Cavities, decay, the health of the gums and its lining, the development of plaque on the teeth all these are can be cut off by proper flossing. A thorough cleaning of the teeth helps to remove food debris in the mouth and put an end to unwanted bacterial action in the mouth. If done regularly, flossing will help to improve oral health.
Flossing is not just for adults, kids can also learn flossing techniques quite easily. The general rule that dentists say is flossing should start when a child has two teeth that touch. Flossing can start at a young age, parents or care givers should help kids to floss when they are young. As they grow older, they can be taught to floss with support from parents. The importance of flossing should be taught to the kids to ensure they have good oral hygiene practices.
Categorised in: Dental Floss
This post was written by Letooth