Despite understanding that our semi-annual trips to the dentist are extremely important for our oral and overall health, we may not particularly enjoy certain aspects of them. For example–do you dread the moment when your dentist or dental hygienist asks you about your oral hygiene habits? Do you find yourself torn between lying about how often or well you floss and telling the truth, knowing you may be gently chided for failing to stay on top of this important habit? Here’s something to consider: your dentist already knows the truth when she asks you this question, because your oral health condition is the main clue she needs in order to determine whether you are properly and regularly flossing your teeth. She’s asking you about your flossing habits because she wants to help you improve them, especially if you don’t understand why they are important. She’s heard all the myths and excuses for why daily flossing doesn’t occur, and she is very interested in helping you to set things straight so you can enjoy the optimal oral health you desire.
The Truth About Flossing
Whether you are rigorous about flossing every day, you floss only occasionally (whenever you remember to), or you only spot floss when there’s something stuck in your teeth and it’s annoying you, chances are you may have heard some flossing myths and would benefit from learning some flossing facts. Following are some of the most common flossing myths and facts that come up with our patients:
Flossing Myth: I can hurt my teeth by flossing incorrectly.
Flossing Fact: It’s certainly true that there are some flossing techniques that are more beneficial than others, but it’s not really possible to harm your teeth with any particular sort of flossing technique. The trick to flossing well is to use plenty of floss–roughly eighteen inches to be precise. You wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and the rest of the floss around the middle finger of your other hand, transferring more floss as you move through your mouth. Then, using your thumbs and forefingers, grasp the floss and gently glide it down in between a pair of teeth. Once the floss reaches the gum line, move it into the shape of a C against the side of one tooth and move it gently up and down before moving it into the shape of a C against the side of the other tooth and moving it gently up and down. Continue through the entire mouth in this way, shifting the floss after each pair of teeth so you have clean floss for the next pair of teeth. If you find it difficult to maneuver your fingers in your mouth in order to floss properly and thoroughly, consider using a flossing tool to help you get the job done.
Flossing Myth: I don’t need to floss if I don’t have food stuck in between my teeth.
Flossing Fact: While it’s true that flossing can help to remove lingering food particles from between the teeth, this is not its sole purpose. Flossing is actually more useful in removing dental plaque that forms in between your teeth, where your toothbrush bristles cannot reach. Where dental plaque is not removed, it can build up and lead to tooth decay, swollen gums and periodontal disease.
Flossing Myth: I don’t have time to floss.
Flossing Fact: The truth is that if you want a healthy, comfortable mouth and smile, you don’t have time to skip flossing. Once you get the hang of flossing properly you’ll find that it only takes a couple of minutes each day, it helps to make dental cleanings more comfortable, and it helps to keep your teeth healthier and more comfortable. Make flossing a priority–keep a box of floss next to your toothbrush holder so you’ll see it every day, and maybe even keep a box of floss in the glove compartment of your car or in your desk drawer at the office just in case you need it. Chances are that you’ll come to appreciate the clean feeling you experience after you floss, which will make the few moments spent flossing all the easier to deal with.
For more information about flossing, including proper flossing tools and techniques, contact Dr. Best today.