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Why Flossing Is a Must for Healthy Teeth

Flossing your teeth may seem like just another chore to be done, but in fact, it’s a necessary procedure if you want to maintain good oral and physical health. For decades, we’ve been told that twice-daily brushing is imperative for good dental health, and that’s true. However, brushing is only part of the picture. Researchers have found that flossing is as vital as brushing for those who want the best dental health possible. Some dentists believe that flossing once is the equivalent of brushing twice, but this doesn’t mean that you can floss and avoid brushing. It simply means that flossing is very important to your good oral health. It’s not important whether you floss first or brush first, nor does it matter whether you use waxed or unwaxed floss. The most important thing is that you floss at least once each day. Be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly after flossing.

After you eat or drink, plaque begins to form on your teeth. Plaque is very sticky at first when it adheres to your teeth, but eventually becomes a very hard substance that only a dentist can remove. Initially, plaque is acidic and begins to erode the enamel on your teeth and it causes your gums to become inflamed. Gum inflammation is the first step of periodontal disease and can lead to serious conditions such as heart disease, obesity, pneumonia, and diabetes, as well as other serious diseases. It’s amazing but true that the simple act of flossing correctly on a daily basis can eliminate so many health issues!

You should floss every day, no matter your age. The only caveat is that you have teeth. Those who are in a high-risk category should pay particular attention to their flossing habits. Some health conditions can cause dry mouth, which can be a precursor to gum disease and cavities because saliva acts as a bacteria flush, washing away damaging bacteria from your mouth. If you have a dry mouth due to medications or a health issue, talk to your dentist about remedies and assiduously attend to your oral hygiene habits.

In addition to needing to floss every day, you need to do it properly. The procedure is simple. Take about 18 inches of floss – waxed or unwaxed doesn’t matter, it’s whichever works best for you – and loop one end around each index finger if that’s helpful. Pull the floss taut, then guide it between two teeth. Use a back-and-forth motion to remove any food particles at the gumline, then an up-and-down motion to remove any particles that are between your teeth. Repeat this process for each tooth and use a fresh section of floss for each tooth. Rinse your mouth thoroughly after you floss.

Flossing Is for Kids’ Teeth Too!

Flossing is as essential for kids as it is for adults, although the initial training may be challenging. As soon as your child has two teeth that abut, they’re old enough to begin flossing. As challenging as it may seem at first, starting early will teach your child the importance of good dental hygiene, which is a habit that will provide lifetime benefits. There are ways to make flossing more fun for your kids, you’ll have to get creative, but your kids will thank you later for encouraging good dental habits.

Five Fun Motivators to Teach Kids to Floss

  1. Reward success: Buy or make a flossing chart and hang it on their bathroom wall. Add a star or sticker for each consecutive day that they floss. After several consecutive days of flossing, provide them with a reward such as a special movie or an extended bedtime.
  2. Fun and games: Children enjoy fun activities, so make flossing time fun. Have a dance party or an adventure or tell a thrilling story with the flossing kids the winner. By making flossing a fun family time rather than a boring chore, you’ll be more successful, and your child will be more likely to continue the habit through adulthood.
  3. Cool tools: Although adult flossing implements are boring, kids’ flossing tools are smaller to fit their hands, and they’re brightly colored. Some glow in the dark!
  4. Praise, praise, praise: Everyone appreciates positive reinforcement, so praise their efforts at flossing and their success in learning the procedure. Just don’t be fake.
  5. Watch me: You can’t stress the importance of flossing to your kids if you don’t floss. Lead by example and floss every day. Turn it into a family activity with family rewards, and your kids will be anticipating their flossing time.

Four Foolproof Flossing Steps

Flossing isn’t difficult, but it needs to be done correctly if you want it to be effective. The American Dental Association suggests the following procedure for flossing your teeth properly.

  1. Wind: Use about 18 inches of floss and pull it taut between your thumbs and index fingers. You can use waxed floss or unwaxed, whichever you prefer.
  2. Guide: Use your index fingers to move the floss up and down between each tooth. Use gentle pressure and a smooth motion so you don’t injure your gums.
  3. Glide: Work the floss up-and-down and back-and-forth gently and smoothly.
  4. Slide: Slide the floss over the surface of the teeth and under the gum line in a smooth motion, using a clean section of floss for each tooth. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after you’ve flossed.

If you dislike regular dental floss, there are alternatives. You have a choice of waxed or unwaxed floss, and you can use a hand-held flosser. These are available in manual or electric models, and they work like dental floss, except you hold the handle rather than the floss.

For those who have braces or other types of orthodontic appliances, your dentist can provide you with special orthodontic floss or floss threaders. These are great for working in smaller spaces using the same steps as outlined above. Be sure to avoid getting the floss tangled in your braces or orthodontic appliances, and use gentle pressure so that you don’t damage your gums.

Flossing every day is vital, and within a short time, the process of flossing will flow naturally with brushing your teeth. If you have questions about flossing techniques for your kids or yourself, call Garden State Dental at , and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions.

We look forward to speaking with you.

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