Flossing is a method for removing bacteria and other debris that cannot be reached by a toothbrush. It generally entails a very thin piece of synthetic cord (dental floss) you insert and move up and down between the sides of two adjoining teeth.
Why is flossing important?
Many dentists believe that flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque. In any event, daily flossing is an excellent and proven method for complementing your brushing routine and helping to prevent cavities, periodontal disease, and other dental problems later in life. It also increases blood circulation in your gums. Floss removes plaque and debris that stick to your teeth and gums.
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by exposing your child’s teeth to liquids containing sugars. It can destroy the teeth if left untreated. Culprits include milk, formula, fruit juice, sodas, and other sweet drinks. The sugars in these liquids pool around your baby’s teeth and gums, feeding the bacteria that live in plaque. Pacifiers dipped in honey, sugar, or syrup are just invitations to tooth decay.
Encouraging your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday can ward off baby bottle tooth decay. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup.
Children should be weaned from the bottle as soon as they can drink from a cup, but the bottle should not be taken away too soon. The sucking motion aids in the development of facial muscles and the tongue.
How often to floss
Floss at least once every day. Like brushing, flossing should take about three minutes and can easily be done while doing another activity, such as watching television.
Types of floss
Dental floss today is made up of a variety of materials and comes in many forms – waxed and unwaxed, flavoured and unflavoured, wide and regular.
Wide floss (dental tape) is often useful for people with a lot of bridge work or for people with wide gaps between their teeth. Waxed floss is known to glide easier between tooth surfaces, and is often preferred by people who have discomfort from floss pushing against the surfaces of their teeth.
A popular device many patients use is called a ‘pre-threaded flosser’, or ‘floss holder’. These are useful for beginners, caretakers, and people with dexterity problems. While they can be used safely for removing food between teeth, toothpicks should not be used as an alternative to floss. Toothpicks can break off and cut your tender gums and become lodged between teeth.
There are two common methods for flossing – the ‘spool’ method and the ‘loop’ method.