guide to flossing

A Simple Guide to Flossing

Dr Devine Oral Health

guide to flossingServing Brentwood, Belle Meade and Green Hills Areas of Nashville TN

Each time you visit the dentist, they always ask the same question, “Have you been flossing?” And unfortunately, there are a lot of patients who sheepishly say, “No,” although we can tell if you don’t anyway! The typical thought about flossing is that there is no need to as long as the teeth are brushed after every meal. This could be further from the truth.

Why is flossing necessary and so important?

Although brushing your teeth after every meal greatly reduces the food debris left behind after eating, the bristles on the brush have limited reach. Therefore, to get all of the debris from the hard to reach places, flossing is a necessity. By flossing, you will reduce the amount of plaque and tartar build-up over time that tends to occur simply from eating and around pieces of leftover food stuck in between your teeth.

How do I floss?

Flossing is more than simply popping a string between two teeth down to the gum line. This method can actually cause damage to the gums if there is enough force applied to the floss. The best way to protect your gums is to gently wedge the floss between two teeth and gently sweep the sides of each tooth in a “U” shaped motion. When removing the floss, there may be food particles attached, so let go of one end of the floss and gently pull it out from between the teeth. Then, you may wipe or wash the food debris from the floss and move to the next space.

A simple way to ensure you have reached all areas in your mouth is to begin on one side of the mouth, top or bottom, and move across the mouth one space at a time. Then, once you have completed one set of teeth, repeat the same pattern on the next set of teeth. By taking the time to ensure each space is properly cleaned, you will reduce the possibility of forming cavities between your teeth, or gum disease, which is a common infection caused by not taking care of your oral health.

After I floss my gums bleed. Why?

There are several reasons why your gums can bleed when flossing. First, when you floss, you could be forcing the floss through the space between your teeth with too much force. This could cause gum damage, therefore, causing them to bleed. Remember to use gentle pressure when inserting the floss between the teeth. Second, if it has been a little while since you flossed, your gums could be irritated or inflamed by food stuck between your teeth. If your gums are sensitive when flossing, be gentle and rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help reduce the inflammation. Third, when you delay regular oral care, you could develop gingivitis, a disease that lives in your gums. This condition can only be diagnosed by a trained oral professional. Even if you are diagnosed with gingivitis, you and your dentist can work together to create a care plan that will begin to reverse the damage.

When should my children start flossing?

Dentists get this question quite often. The general rule of oral care is to begin flossing your children’s teeth around the age of 2-3 years old or when the teeth begin to touch. There are several products out on the market to help your little ones get in the habit of flossing each time they brush. By starting the flossing process early with your children, you are sure to develop a positive and healthy habit for life.

Family Dentist in Belle Meade, Green Hills, or Nashville

To learn more about flossing or oral care services we offer at Devine Dentistry, feel free to call (615) 269-4209 and schedule an appointment.