woman flossing teeth with dental floss

No amount of toothbrushing can replace the need for dental floss. Flossing your teeth cleans cavity-prone spaces as well as just under the edges of your gum tissues, where plaque tends to accumulate. If you don’t floss, bacterial colonies can weaken your tooth enamel, jeopardise dental work, and cause tissue infections that eventually lead to tooth loss.

If you don’t floss your teeth, the spaces between them will begin to accumulate plaque and tartar buildup. In time, these bacterial colonies will result in demineralised tooth enamel and decay (cavities). Likewise, the now-infected gums will begin to detach from the tooth and create a “pocket” between the tissues and the root surface. Periodontal pocketing also triggers bone loss, which then leads to tooth mobility. Flossing your teeth is the only known way to prevent either of these scenarios from developing. It is considered an essential part of your daily oral hygiene routine, along with brushing.

What Does Flossing Do?

Flossing physically disrupts plaque buildup on your teeth, removing it before it has a chance to calcify. By displacing the sticky bacteria, floss prevents dental plaque from irritating the tooth enamel and gum tissues in that immediate space. Most importantly, flossing reaches where toothbrushing cannot. No matter how well you brush or how high-tech your toothbrush is, you still need to use floss to clean between your teeth and just under the edges of your gumlines. Flossing reaches where toothbrushes cannot. When used properly, floss helps prevent tooth decay, gingivitis, and reverse the early symptoms of gum infections.

Flossing is just as much for your gums as it is for your teeth. When paired with a dedicated brushing routine, flossing can help you significantly extend the health and integrity of your smile.

How Often Should You Floss?

For flossing to work correctly, you need to do it daily. Dental plaque can calcify within 24 hours, so it’s essential to disrupt the bacterial accumulation at least once a day. If you only floss when food feels stuck between your teeth or after your gums are already starting to feel tender, you’ve waited too long.

Some people are afraid to floss because of harming their dental work or symptoms of bleeding gums. The truth is that your teeth and gums need to be cleaned with floss on a daily basis. Healthy gums do not bleed, nor do intact restorations fall off because of flossing. The key is to use your floss accurately and frequently for it to do what it’s
meant to.

How to Floss

Traditional floss works best, as it conforms better to the shape of your tooth. In some situations, using a floss holder or floss pick may also work. Ideally, you need to curve the floss in a “C” shape against the side of the tooth, then rub up and down several times, cleaning the entire tooth as well as just under the edges of the gumlines. Since there is a natural, shallow sulcus (small pocket) under the gums, flossing cleans this space to prevent unhealthy gum detachment and deeper pockets, which can lead to tooth loss.

After you floss the side of one tooth, lift the strand up and over the pointed gum tissues and move to the next tooth. Repeat this process on each tooth in the mouth, while also flossing behind the back teeth even though they do not have a neighbouring tooth.

Dental Floss vs. Waterpiks

Hate flossing? You’re not alone! If you have limited dexterity or fixed restorations — like bridges or multiple dental implants — you may find that it’s easier to switch to a water flosser. Water flossing has been around for decades, but recent research shows that using tools such as a Waterpik can effectively clean down inside of deep periodontal
pockets even better than flossing.

Using a water flosser can be a bit messy, but for someone who might otherwise need floss threaders or have gum disease, making the switch can be highly beneficial.

Haven’t Flossed in a While? It’s Time for a Dental Cleaning

Regular dental cleanings are an integral part of your preventative care. By having your teeth professionally cleaned, you can safely remove any tartar buildup that may have accumulated since your last dental cleaning. During your appointment, Dr Karen Davis will also screen for early warning signs of gum disease or tooth decay, so that you can
intercept them as early as possible.

If it’s been six months or longer since your last checkup, contact our Sarnia dentist today.

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