The What's and Why's of Flossing - Holladay Family Dental
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The What’s and Why’s of Flossing

The What’s and Why’s of Flossing

Flossing is something many people dread doing. It’s right up there with taking the garbage out or getting a blood draw. For some reason brushing doesn’t seem as hard. What people may not realize is how vital flossing is to the health of your mouth and once you get in the habit, you won’t want to go a day without doing it!

What does flossing do that brushing can’t?

Brushing is great to clean the surface of your teeth. What brushing can’t do is get food out that gets stuck between your teeth. When food, especially sugar from soda, sports drinks, or candy builds up on your teeth, bacteria in your mouth converts it to an acid. This acid eats away at your teeth’s enamel and eventually causes cavities. Most of the time, if you are brushing twice a day, you can get this acid off your teeth. Since brushes can’t reach between your teeth, the acid can fester there. Since it’s harder to reach, it’s easier to get cavities. Flossing can get to places brushing can’t.

Should I floss after brushing or before?

Just floss! Any way you want to do it is much better than not doing it at all. Most people who have success with making flossing a habit do it at a similar time every day. The important thing is to set a time you can stick to. Flossing and brushing right before bed could be a good time, since you probably already have a bedtime routine. That way your teeth are clean all night as you sleep. This will lead to less trips to your dentist. Some people have food traps–large gaps between teeth that seem to easily trap food. If this problem sounds familiar, you may need to floss after meals to get food out. You could keep floss or some dental picks in your car. You can also buy small, disposable toothbrushes. Any of these tools help but floss is the most effective. Whatever you use, don’t try safety pins, bobby pins, or hair. Ouch! Yuck!

What if flossing hurts?

If you haven’t been flossing in a long time, your gums could be a little bit sore afterward. Just don’t give up. Sometimes if you haven’t been flossing you may have the beginnings of gum disease. As you floss more and more, your gums will become healthier and more flexible, hurting less and less. A wider floss like Glide might be easier to control and softer on your gums. It’s about $1 more than regular floss. If it gets you flossing, that $1 is well spent!

How are you getting the flossing between your teeth? You want to avoid jamming it or forcing it into your gums. Instead, use a gentle sawing motion to get the floss between two teeth. Then gently slide the floss into the gums around a tooth. Use the same sawing motion to get the floss out.

Flossing is a habit well worth starting. It might take you a few weeks to get used to regular flossing, but you will love the really clean feel of teeth both brushed and flossed. If you have any questions about how to keep your smile clean and healthy, give us a call!