Have you been flossing?
Over my many years in private practice, I’ve asked that question (have you been flossing?) many times of my patients, as you’d probably expect, since I am a dentist. And also because I treat gum disease on a pretty regular basis.
But the question that really matters is, “have you been shown HOW to floss your teeth?”
Believe it or not, most people answer “no” or “I don’t remember”, which is unfortunate because flossing, like most things, really only works when you’re doing it correctly. Done correctly, flossing helps stop plaque from building up in between teeth and bacteria from infiltrating your gum line. Ultimately, it helps prevent tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease).
Here are the keys to effective flossing:
1. Don’t scrimp – your floss should be between 18 and 20 inches long
2. Gently seesaw – to avoid damaging your gums, gently move the floss back and forth in between teeth, don’t force it in
3. Loop and scrape – once the floss is between teeth, snugly loop it around one tooth at a time and gently scrape from below the gum to the top of the tooth several times.
4. Rinse – when you’re done flossing, rinse with water or a mild wash to rid your mouth or any loose debris