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Flossing Basics fora Healthy Mouth

A Dental Floss
Flossing is part of an overall healthy mouth routine. Regular floss use helps to remove debris from in between teeth, cleans the gumline, and can reduce the risk of developing serious gum disease. If you need to brush up on your oral health techniques, take a look at what you should know about floss and how to use it effectively.

Why Floss?

Is flossing an important part of a healthy oral routine? Even though some recent reports have questioned the effectiveness of regular flossing, most dentists still recommend its use. Along with individual dentists recommending the practice, the American Dental Association (ADA) also advocates for the routine use of floss to remove build-up and disease-causing debris.

Not only will floss remove a wayward piece of spinach or a popcorn kernel that is wedged between two teeth, but it can also decrease your chance of developing gum disease. In a study, researchers found that adults who floss more than once a week had a 17 percent lower likelihood of having periodontitis compared to those who didn't floss or flossed less often.

While this percentage might not seem like a dramatic difference, any risk reduction can help to prevent the negative effects of gum disease - such as serious infection or tooth loss.

What Is the Best Floss to Use?

Not all flosses are created equally. Finding the right floss for you depends on several factors, including your dental health, your preferences, and your dentist's recommendations.

The primary types of floss include:
  • Waxed floss. This floss is made from nylon strands and has a wax coating. The coating holds the wax together tightly, making it easier to get in between your teeth without slitting apart. Some dental patients may find that the added layer of wax makes the floss too bulky.
  • Unwaxed floss. This floss is the same nylon floss as the waxed version. However, this floss has no wax on it. If you have crowding or teeth that are tight together, this floss is preferable.
  • Super floss. This type of floss is stiffer than waxed/unwaxed versions. Patients with orthodontic devices or bridges may find this floss easier to maneuver.
  • Dental tape. This product is flatter and slightly wider than traditional nylon floss. This floss comes in both waxed and unwaxed varieties, depending on your preference.
  • Flavored floss. This floss also comes in waxed or unwaxed types and is almost identical to the nylon version, but it also contains a subtle flavoring. The majority of waxed flosses for adults are mint flavored.
  • Floss pik. This product comes with a handle, instead of the standard strand shape. The floss itself is attached to a small head that sits at the end of the handle.
Along with these types of floss, you also have electric options. These flossers are ideal for hard to reach spots and often make flossing easier for those who have mobility issues.

How Should You Floss?

How you floss is just as important as what you floss with. Most adults should floss at least once a day - more if you have food/debris stuck between your teeth after meals. If your dentist instructs you to floss more/less often, always follow their directions.

Unless you're using an electric flosser or floss pik, start with approximately 18 inches of your favorite floss. Wind the ends around your fingers. The ADA recommends use the middle finger of each hand. Grasp the remaining floss between your thumb and forefinger and slide it gently between your teeth in an up and down motion.

When the floss gets to the gumline, curve it towards the tooth to remove excess debris/plaque. As you move from tooth to tooth, thread the floss through your fingers.

Along with flossing, regular dental visits help keep your mouth healthy. Have you been to the dentist yet this year? Contact Indiana Family Dentistry to set up an appointment.