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Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe

There’s no denying how essential the simple act of flossing is to your oral health. While most people know how important it is to brush their teeth twice a day, many of them don’t realize just how detrimental it can be to skip flossing. Flossing is the only thing you can do at home to get rid of the plaque and food particles that become trapped in between your gums and teeth. Failing to floss can lead to decay, disease and damage to your dental health. All of which could have been prevented via the use of a simple, skinny piece of floss.

Flossing provides you with a great deal of protection from plaque. Plaque is a sticky, invisible substance that forms over the teeth and gums whenever you consume foods or beverages. It is full of harmful bacteria that produce acids that wear away at the enamel of your teeth. If left unaddressed, the plaque will cause tooth decay, inflamed gums and gum disease. Taking a few minutes out of your day to floss can help you avoid those problems.

In addition to being great for your overall oral health, flossing is also believed to be beneficial to the rest of your body. Many researchers believe that there is a link between gum diseases and many systemic diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and pneumonia. The common link is believed to be the inflammation that is caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth. Flossing every day could significantly reduce your risk of developing serious health problems.

While everyone benefits from daily flossing, there are certain categories of people who need to be sure that they do so every day. These are people who have serious health issues or who take medications that lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth makes you more susceptible to developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. That’s because saliva cleanses your mouth of harmful bacteria. People with dry mouth don’t produce as much saliva as they should. This means that bacteria remain in the mouth longer. Talk to your dentist about how frequently you need to brush and floss your teeth if you have this condition or other high-risk conditions.

As you can see, the act of flossing can prevent you from developing serious oral and physical health problems. However, in order to achieve all of the benefits associated with flossing you need to make sure that you’re doing so properly. To floss properly, take a lengthy section of floss, wrap it around your fingers to pull it taut, and guide it towards the base of your tooth. Once the floss is in the proper position, you will gently pull it along each side of your tooth. This removes the food particles and plaque from each crevice, and you’ll be able to see some of those particles dislodge. This gentle motion should be repeated on each tooth with a clean section of dental floss.

Make Sure Your Child Flosses Too!

Flossing is just as important for your child as it is for you. It cleans the teeth, improves the breath, fights plaque, and prevents major oral health care issues from setting in. Both you and your child should floss once a day. The majority of dentists recommend that children should begin learning about flossing as soon as they grow two adjoining teeth. While it isn’t an easy task to instill this habit in children, it’s one that will benefit them for a long time to come.

5 Tips to Get Your Child Flossing

  1. Start Tracking Floss Days – Children love earning rewards (just like adults)! Purchase or make a chart that you can hang on your bathroom wall. Place a fun sticker on the chart whenever your kids floss for the day. After a certain number of days, you can provide your child with a reward like going to the movies, staying up late or a fun new toy.
  2. It’s All Flossing Fun and Games – While flossing might sound like it’s a boring chore, you can turn it into a fun game by playing lively music and encouraging the kids to dance and floss to the beat. Or, create fun and exciting stories featuring floss fighters defeating bad bacteria. No matter what you do, turning it into a game will help get your kids excited about flossing.
  3. Pick the Bright, Tiny Tools – Leave the plain and boring floss packages for the grown-ups and purchase colorful or glow in the dark floss sticks instead. Their small size and child-friendly appearance makes them a popular choice. You will most likely need more than one in order to floss all of your child’s teeth.
  4. Praise Good Performance – Praising your child for flossing is a simple and highly effective tool when it comes to encouraging flossing. Kids love to be told they are doing a good job. They also love pleasing the adults in their lives. Utilizing positive reinforcement will motivate them to continue with this healthy habit.
  5. Be the Example – As with many things in life, children develop lifelong habits based on the behavior modeled to them by the adults in their lives. This means that you need to be sure you are flossing. If your children see you flossing, they will be more likely to participate in the habit as well.

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

The American Dental Hygienists Association advises utilizing the following four steps when you floss your teeth:

  1. Wind – Take a piece of floss that is approximately 18 inches long and hold it in between your thumbs and index fingers. Be sure to pull the strand tightly.
  2. Guide – You should use your index fingers to lead the floss into the area between the top and bottom of each tooth.
  3. Glide – Use a gentle and smooth gliding motion to get the floss between the teeth.
  4. Slide – Be sure to use a clean section of dental floss for every tooth. Gently move the floss up and down on the surface of each of your teeth and under your gumline.

If you’d rather not have to hold the string of floss yourself, you can purchase a hand-held or electric flosser. The flossing technique for both are nearly identical to what is listed above, but you will be holding onto the handle of a flosser rather than the string of floss.

You should be careful not to get floss tangled in braces or other dental work. To do this, you can use a special type of orthodontic floss or floss threaders. These allow you to floss in smaller areas of the mouth than traditional dental floss does.

Taking just a few minutes out of your day to floss will keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape. If you want further tips on how to properly floss, ask one of our experts at Gentle Dental of Pennsylvania.

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