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Why is Flossing So Important?

austin tx dentistEven if you’re already flossing twice daily as recommended by dentists across the country, including Dr. Glen Wainwright of Austin Dental Care in Austin, TX, you still may not be doing enough to ward off tooth decay and gum disease. Although brushing is an important part of your oral hygiene regimen, flossing is equally important. Brushing only removes the bacteria and food particles that are easiest to reach.

These particles form plaque- a sticky but clear and colorless substance that attaches to your teeth. In plaque, the bacteria finds a feast and begins to eat away at your tooth enamel which eventually leads to cavities.

Why Is Flossing So Important?

Flossing removes the plaque that your toothbrush can’t easily reach such as between your teeth and just under your gum line. However, it is very important that you are flossing correctly. As the old saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and flossing is that ounce of prevention for tooth decay. Flossing can help you avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that may become necessary when tooth decay is allowed to run rampant between teeth.

How to Floss Correctly

  1. Wrap around your middle fingers a length of floss about eighteen inches long. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the already used floss toward the finger with less floss wrapped around it and access a fresh length.
  2. Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle back and forth “sawing” motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
  3. Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently slide up and down your tooth. Repeat this several times, making sure to dip slightly below the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. Do this for each tooth.
  4. Again be sure to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can linger and make you sick if reintroduced later.
  5. Don’t worry too much if you see that your gums are bleeding as you floss. A little bleeding is perfectly normal if you don’t floss regularly. This bleeding is due to inflammation caused by the bacteria dwelling there. If you floss daily as recommended by your dentist, you should see an improvement in the health of gums in one to two weeks.

What About Floss Picks?

Some patients prefer to use floss picks.  These “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are widely available at most stores. However, dentists prefer using a length of “free” floss and your hands. Floss picks don’t allow for proper flossing due to the fact that you cannot wrap them around a tooth in the “U” shape recommended. However, it’s still better than not flossing at all.

Schedule An Appointment With Your Dentist

Common wisdom is that flossing after your daily brushing is best as there will already be less plaque and food particles to remove with the floss.  If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 512-518-6392 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Wainwright at Austin Dental Care in Austin, TX today.