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Why You Shouldn’t Skip Flossing

family dentist towson mdEven if you’re already flossing twice daily as recommended by dentists like Dr. Patrick Ousborne and Dr. Rikki Esterson of Dental Excellence of Towson, you may not be doing enough to stave off tooth decay and gum disease. Although brushing is an important part of your oral hygiene regimen, flossing is equally important. Brushing your teeth, while important, only removes the bacteria and plaque-forming particles that are easiest to reach.

This bacteria combines with saliva and food particles to create plaque. Plaque is a sticky but clear and colorless substance that attaches to your teeth. In plaque, the bacteria finds a fertile feast and begins to eat away at your tooth enamel as it devours the plaque which eventually leads to cavities.

Why Is Flossing So Important?

This is where flossing can make an enormous difference. Flossing removes the plaque that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth. However, it is very important that you are effectively flossing to maximize the benefits. Flossing is one of the most important things you can do at home to prevent tooth decay, helping you to avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that can become necessary when plaque is allowed to remain between teeth.

How to Floss Correctly

  1. Wrap around your middle fingers a length of floss about eighteen inches long. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the already used floss toward the finger with less floss wrapped around it 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 teeth down to their base where they erupt from 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 each tooth.
  4. Again be sure to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can linger and make you sick if reintroduced later
  5. Don’t worry too much if you see that your gums are bleeding as you floss. A little bleeding is perfectly normal if you don’t floss regularly. This bleeding is due to inflammation caused by the bacteria dwelling there. If you floss daily as recommended by your dentist, you should see an improvement in the health of gums in one to two weeks.

Floss Picks Are Less Effective Than You Think

Some patients prefer to use floss picks.  These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are widely available at most stores. However, dentists prefer using 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 in the “U” shape recommended. However, it’s still better than not flossing at all.

Schedule An Appointment With Your Dentist

Common wisdom is 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’re in the Towson, MD area and have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call (410) 514-6553 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Ousborne or Dr. Esterson at Dental Excellence of Towson today.