You don’t have to floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep! There are over 700 species of bacteria mingling around in your mouth. It is estimated that 35% of your teeth’s surfaces cannot be reached by a toothbrush. Don’t worry friends, we’ll go ahead and leave this info right here to fill you in on the details:
The purpose of brushing and flossing is to remove plaque. This is the clear, sticky substance that continually forms on our teeth during the day. It is the result of sugars in our food and drinks that interact with the naturally found bacteria in our mouths. This plaque is full of bacteria and produces acids that erode the enamel of our teeth and cause decay.
Plaque doesn’t only form on the easily accessible surfaces of the teeth. It also forms in the tiny cracks between the teeth that standard toothbrush bristles may find difficult to reach. This is where flossing comes in.
The use of floss with proper technique is designed to reach the plaque that a toothbrush can’t. Thus, it can help to prevent cavities from starting in between the teeth where they touch each other. Flossing can also help prevent gum disease which occurs from plaque resting at or below the gums and not being cleaned away. The American Dental Association recommends that everyone clean between their teeth once daily using floss.
Lots of people find that no matter how much they practice using traditional floss, they just can’t quite get to grips with it. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that your teeth and gums have to suffer. Floss picks are small plastic devices with a piece of dental floss pre-threaded in the opening. These are gently worked between the gums and the teeth the same way as traditional floss. Floss picks can also help for easier access to the back teeth that many people have a hard time flossing.
Traditional floss is recommended over floss picks, however, as traditional floss allows you to wrap the floss around the teeth in a C-shape and adapt to the shape of the teeth. This technique allows better contact of the floss to the tooth for a better clean. Because the floss pick has a small section of floss and a plastic handle, it can sometimes make it difficult to manipulate the floss and get it to fully engage with the surfaces in between the teeth. It’s still better than forgoing flossing completely and is a good alternative for people that struggle to use string floss due to large hands, or lack of dexterity due to age.
Water flossers are handheld devices that use a stream of pressurized water aimed between the teeth to remove plaque and flush out any bacteria. Think of it like jet washing the spaces between your teeth. In 2017, it was approved by the ADA as an alternative to string floss.
It’s important to note that mouthwash is not an alternative to flossing. While it will help rinse away any loose bacteria and keep your mouth feeling so fresh and so clean, it can’t remove stubborn plaque. It’s recommended to use a combination of flossing, brushing, and mouthwash for the best results.
If you would like more advice on flossing, our dedicated dental team would be delighted to help. Please contact our dental office today to speak to us or to schedule an appointment.