Most people don’t enjoy flossing very much, but their dentists and hygienists keep saying they should. Why is it so important? How can you get into a habit of it…and hopefully make it a little less uncomfortable?
Why is your dentist always bugging you to floss? Because if you only brush, you’re not cleaning all the surfaces of your teeth. Tooth brushes cover the visible surfaces, but flossing gets at those pesky edges and the bits of your teeth partially covered with gums. These areas particularly need intensive cleaning to remove plaque buildup and prevent gum disease, and flossing is the best way to keep them clean.
With the right technique, flossing shouldn’t hurt. The first week or so of regular flossing might induce some bleeding, because your gums may be fragile and slightly infected. However, with proper care and plaque removal, the bleeding should recede (if it doesn’t, talk to your dentist). Use the “C” technique to floss effectively and relatively painlessly. Make sure your curve the floss in a C shape around the tooth, and slide it up and down (NOT back and forth horizontally) getting right down past the gum to the base of the tooth. This will hook the plaque from between the contacts of the teeth.
Unwaxed floss or even typical waxed floss can be tricky to use when you’re not in the habit. Start by simply switching up the type of floss you use: trade out waxed for easy-glide and you might be amazed at the difference! Another tool to consider is flossing sticks, which come in both reusable and disposable forms. These can keep your fingers from feeling like the circulation’s cut off, and mean that you don’t have to put your hands in your mouth if you’re uncomfortable with that. “GumChucks” is a new product on the market similar to flossing sticks. Another alternative is the WaterPik, which is like flossing but with water – ask your dentist about their feelings on this newer technique.
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