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Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe

No matter how much you may avoid flossing, you can’t deny the need for it. While you may believe that brushing your teeth twice a day is enough to keep your teeth and gums healthy, it’s really only the beginning. It may be difficult to believe, but that single strand of thin dental floss is one of the only tools strong enough to remove plaque from the crevices of your teeth and gums. Not flossing can lead to decay, disease, and damage to your dental and overall health.

If you’re unaware of what plaque is, it’s time that you became educated on the subject. Every time you eat or drink something, the sugars that exist within that food or beverage stick to the teeth and gums. Failing to remove those sugars via brushing and flossing causes them to turn into acid that wears down the enamel of the teeth. Those acids harden into plaque and will cause dental decay, inflamed gums, and gum disease. Flossing every day can help you to avoid all of these issues.

Not only is flossing healthy for your teeth and gums, but there is some evidence that suggests that it could also be good for your overall physical health. Research suggests that there is some type of connection between gum disease and systemic diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and pneumonia. Current thinking on the subject is that the link could be caused by inflammation caused by harmful bacteria residing in the mouth. Daily flossing removes that harmful bacteria and reduces your risk of developing serious health problems.

Did you know that your saliva cleanses your mouth of harmful bacteria? This makes flossing incredibly important for people who suffer from certain serious health conditions or who take particular medications that lower the levels of saliva present within their mouths. Lower levels of saliva mean that you are less protected. If you have problems with dry mouth, talk to your dentist about what you can do to lessen your risk of developing oral health problems associated with the condition.

In order to properly floss, you need to take a long piece of floss and bring it to the base of your tooth. You will then need to gently pull the floss along the sides of the tooth. This rids the crevices between your teeth and gums of plaque and food particles. This motion should be repeated with a fresh portion of floss on each tooth.

Why Children Should Floss Their Teeth

Children need to floss their teeth as often as adults do. Along with a twice a day brushing regimen, children should be flossing their teeth once a day. This prevents dental care problems, fights plaque, improves the breath, and cleans the teeth. Kids should begin learning about flossing as soon as they have two teeth that emerge side by side. This is the best time to begin teaching them all about the techniques and practices of flossing. Establishing a flossing habit at an early age is the best way to ensure your child has healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.

Tips to Get Children Flossing

  1. Track Their Habits – Hang up a flossing chart on the wall of the bathroom and utilize colorful stickers to track days that your child flosses his or her teeth. After a certain number of days, allow your child to have a reward such as going to the movies or getting a new toy.
  2. Gamify Flossing – Just because something is a routine dental hygiene habit doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. Make a game out of flossing. Tell an exciting story about defeating evil oral bacteria with floss. Turn flossing time into a dance party by having your kids floss along to the beat of a fun song.
  3. Get Tiny Tools – Brightly colored floss sticks are popular tools when it comes to encouraging kids to floss. These sticks are made for small hands to hold. Their colors and features (some glow in the dark) are appealing to children and make it more likely that they will want to use them.
  4. Give Praise When They Succeed – Utilizing positive reinforcement will ensure that your child will want to continue performing this behavior. It’s one of the greatest tools you have in encouraging your kids to establish healthy habits.
  5. Be the Example – In addition to lots of praise, your children will be more likely to establish a healthy habit if they also see you performing it as well. Make flossing a family habit so that everyone gets to have happy and healthy teeth and gums.

How to Floss Your Teeth Properly

If you’d like to properly floss your teeth, you should follow these four simple steps suggested by the American Dental Hygienists Association:

  1. Wind – Hold approximately 18 inches of dental floss in between the thumbs and index fingers. Create a taut strand by pulling tightly on the floss.
  2. Guide – Take your index fingers and move the floss in between the top and bottom of your tooth.
  3. Glide – Use a gliding motion to move the floss gently and smoothly between your teeth.
  4. Slide – Take a fresh section of floss for every tooth and slide the floss up and down over the tooth’s surface and beneath the gumline.

Tools such as electric or hand-held flossers are available for people who would rather hold onto a handle than the floss itself or who lack the manual dexterity needed to floss by hand. These tools follow the same technique as above.

Wearing braces or other kinds of dental devices can make flossing more difficult as floss can become tangled in your dental work. You can use specially designed orthodontic floss or threaders that allow you to floss in the smaller spaces created by braces and other dental work. Make sure that you are always gentle when you floss.

Making time to floss each and every day will keep your teeth, gums and body healthy. To learn some helpful hints about this important oral hygiene habits, contact our team of experts at Long Wharf Dental Group.

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