When you come in for your visit at Yonkers Avenue Dental, you will find you are often asked: “Have you been flossing?” I have heard a multitude of responses to that question over the years and more often than not the response is “Not as often as I should”. Flossing is an extremely important part of our daily hygiene routine, but most patients don’t understand the benefits behind the required task.
Why do we floss?
Much like brushing, flossing is a mechanical means of removing food and plaque from the teeth. We floss to prevent cavities from forming in between our teeth. We floss to prevent gingivitis (painful inflammation of the gums) as well as periodontal disease (bleeding, receding gums with bone loss). Recent studies have shown that about 40% of tooth surface area is between the teeth! So not flossing is like taking a shower and only washing half your body! The rest of your body will get pretty stinky soon..right? It's the same situation in the mouth. Food and bacteria that are not washed away will soon start to smell pretty bad and start causing havoc as described below.
What are the benefits of flossing?
Healthy teeth and gums of course! Healthy gums which fully cover the spaces between our teeth preventing food impaction will also have good attachment to the roots of our teeth. On a larger scale healthy gums will help our total body health, as gum disease has been found to cause inflammation that worsens diabetes and hypertension. Gum disease has also been implicated in premature births. Please keep in mind it is best to floss BEFORE brushing your teeth.
What are the consequences if we skip flossing?
If we skip flossing, we can have a variety of dental issues to deal with. We can have gingivitis (inflammation and slight bleeding of the gums), periodontal disease (advanced bleeding of the gums, gum recession), loss of attachment causing loosening and shifting teeth, increased tooth sensitivity, as well as increased incidents of cavities. Also, as mentioned previously, there can be health consequences to deal with as well.
What type of floss should you use?
There are many varieties and brands on the market. Frequently, we recommend a waxed floss for easy access entering the space between teeth. It will rarely shred or break when used. This is something that you should discuss with Dr. Rajani during your check up at Yonkers Avenue Dental.
Different types on the market are:
- Waxed and unwaxed dental floss and dental tape(wider type of dental floss)
- Fluoridated floss – floss that is impregnated with fluoride on its fibers (Smart idea!)
- Floss picks – individual disposable plastic picks that have a small piece of floss affixed to them.
- Platypus flossers – individual disposable plastic picks that are used by patients that have braces.
- Superfloss or floss threaders – also for use with braces but can also be used for bridges and permanently cemented dental work.
*Brands commonly recommended are Glide, Oral-B satin floss, Reach fluoridated floss.*
What else can be used to clean the spaces between teeth?
Floss holders are a helpful tool for those who are not able to properly hold floss or who have disabilities that affect the hands and wrists. End tufted tapered brushes are great for accessing the areas the toothbrush can’t quite reach lie the spaces behind the very last tooth in each corner of your mouth. Interdental brushes which look like mini pipe cleaners can be used to clean large spaces that trap food frequently. Please keep in mind there are a lot of things on the market, but at Yonkers Avenue Dental we can show you what is best for you to use – a customizable plan to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy, contributing to your complete overall health.