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Posted on: April 26, 2021
Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe
Johnson & Johnson patented the first commercial waxed and unwaxed dental floss in 1898. For more than a century, dentists have been urging their patients to floss once a day. Still, only about 30 percent of Americans floss every day. Even more shocking, about 20 percent of individuals never floss their teeth. We’ve known for a long time how flossing removes bacteria-laden plaque from between teeth. Plaque contributes to bad breath, decay and gum disease. Individuals who never floss are only cleaning 60 to 70 percent of their teeth, leaving the bacteria and plaque to damage the surfaces between their teeth and their gum tissue. The bacteria in plaque creates an acid that can destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities.
Plaque and tartar, which is hardened plaque, can cause gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more advanced form of gum disease that can cause tooth loss in its most advanced stage. Periodontitis is a serious infection that requires lifetime management to prevent it from progressing to the point where it damages the bone and tissues that keep teeth tightly in place. Gum disease is the main reason adults over age 30 lose teeth.
Keeping your teeth free of plaque buildup, which requires both brushing, flossing and professional cleanings, can have a positive impact on your physical health. Studies link periodontal disease to cardiovascular diseases, pregnancy complications, dementia, and many other harmful diseases. Gum disease can also make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels. When bacteria in the mouth enter the bloodstream, it can lead to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular diseases.
Do Kids Need to Floss Too?
Kids need to floss to keep their baby teeth healthy until their adult teeth emerge. Flossing will help prevent your child from getting cavities between their teeth and it helps keep their breath fresh. As soon as your child has two teeth that touch each other, you need to floss the teeth. Children usually have two teeth touching around ages two to six. They won’t have the ability to floss by themselves yet, you will have to explain the process and do it for them. Most children are ready to floss by themselves by age seven or eight.
How to Have Fun with Kids While Getting Them to Floss
It’s not easy to get kids to floss daily. They are busy exploring the world around them and have trouble sitting still while you floss their teeth. Making it fun will help them get into the habit of daily flossing once they can do it themselves.
- Get your child excited about flossing by introducing them to books about brushing and flossing at the local library. Let them become more curious about flossing, so when it’s time for you to start, it will seem familiar to them.
- Make flossing a family affair. Floss your own teeth and then your children’s teeth. Use a floss pick for theirs and it should go quickly. Their gums might bleed slightly at first; this is fairly normal. If they continue to bleed, after more than a week of gentle flossing, ask their dentist to examine their gums.
- Help your child floss first and then let them play with the Toothsavers app. If they brush for two minutes, they can be well on their way to becoming a hero or heroine and saving a kingdom.
- Let your child pick out a flosser and their own toothbrush and toothpaste. There are many colors, shapes and flavors for kids to choose from, so every child can design their own oral hygiene kit. It gives them more control over their oral hygiene. Select products featuring the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, ensuring the products are safe for kids.
- Make a chart for the bathroom and give your child a gold star for every day they floss. After they earn so many stars, you can offer a small reward. Don’t offer a sweet treat; give your child a small toy instead. You can also offer a daily reward, like staying up to watch a favorite TV show or video, as this works better for some kids.
How to Floss Like a Dental Hygienist
If you’re using string dental floss, which is the most popular choice among consumers, use the following techniques to ensure you are doing it correctly.
- Cut off a piece of floss about a foot and a half long or roughly 18inches.
- Wind some of it around the pointer fingers of each hand, leaving an inch or so to work with. You can also use your middle fingers or whichever feels most comfortable.
- Using your thumbs or index fingers to guide the floss, slide it between your teeth. Make the floss into a C shape and clean each side of the tooth. Get under the gumline to remove plaque.
- Use a new portion of the floss for each tooth, so you won’t spread bacteria throughout your mouth.
- Rinse or brush your teeth afterward to remove food particles that were stuck between your teeth. It’s better to floss, then brush, since your teeth sides will be clean and can absorb the fluoride in your toothpaste easier.
Some people find it easier to use a flosser with a handle, especially if you have arthritis. You can also use an interdental brush to clean between your teeth. This is a small, straight brush that fits between your teeth. They come in various widths. If you have braces or a dental bridge, use super floss or a water-powered flosser, whichever your dentist recommends.
If you need help choosing a product to use to clean between your teeth, or you need help with your technique, consult our experts at Manatee Dental of East Bradenton. We would like to help you find a way to clean between your teeth that you find easy, so you will do it every day.