Love it or hate it flossing is an important part of good oral hygiene. Your toothbrush cannot reach in between the teeth where lots of food debris and plaque build up accumulates. Brushing your teeth and not flossing is like taking a shower and not washing your armpits. Ugh.
Flossing when combined with good brushing helps you clean every surface of your teeth. Something like 40% of your tooth surfaces are inaccessible to your toothbrush.
My advice is to floss once a day everyday, preferably after your last meal of the day or just before bed so that when you sleep there aren't deposits of food and plaque sitting between your teeth.
As long as you use the correct technique is doesn't really matter what type of floss you choose. The best floss is one that you will use.
The Benefits of Flossing
Flossing provides a number of benefits - from simply having cleaner teeth to preventing cavities and even avoiding tooth loss. Flossing reaches the places a toothbrush can't and helps to prevent:
How to Floss
- Use enough floss. Break off a piece about 45cm long. It sounds like a lot, but you want enough to keep a clean segment in place as you move from tooth to tooth. Wrap most of the floss around either the middle finger or the index finger of one hand, and a small amount onto the middle or index finger of the other hand. Using the middle finger leaves your index finger free to move and aim the floss.
- Slide. Gently slide the floss between the teeth in a zigzag motion and be careful not to let the floss snap or ping between teeth. But it does need to slide gently into the gutter between the gum and tooth so it looks like it has gone under the gum.
- Make a C. Make a C shape with the floss as you wrap it around the tooth. Then carefully pull the floss upward from the gum line to the top of the tooth.
- Roll along. As you move from one tooth to the next, unroll a fresh section of floss from one hand and wind the used floss onto the finger of the other hand. Use your thumb as a guide.
- Reach both sides. Don’t forget to floss both sides of each tooth. Include the very back edge of the last tooth.
If you find this too challenging or are not keen to put your fingers in your mouth then you can use flossettes or interdental cleaning brushes to access between the teeth. These can be purchased from your dentist or pharmacy. I tend not to recommend the use of toothpicks as they can damage the gum tissue and the delicate protective coating on the roots called cementum.
Either way the message here is you need to find a way to clean in between your teeth so as to prevent gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.