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Flossing is indeed an important part of your oral care routine which is why your dentist advises you to floss every time you visit him. Here are ten facts you should know about flossing:
Food and bacteria like to hide in the spaces between your teeth and no matter how thoroughly you brush your toothbrush bristles just can't reach them. That's where flossing comes handy! Flossing removes plaque from areas that the toothbrush can't reach i.e. between your teeth and under the gum line and helps prevent gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.
The Nylon floss is more widely used. The waxed variety is sturdier and is generally used by people with braces or smaller spaces between teeth. It is also easier to slip it between teeth because of the wax coating. They are also available in flavoured and unflavoured varieties. (Read: Understanding the structure of your teeth)
Nylon floss usually tears or shreds when used between teeth with tight contact points. PTFE is softer than the nylon floss and slides more easily between the teeth. It is also less likely to tear or shred. (Read: Why you need to floss)
Dental floss is commonly supplied in plastic dispensers which may contain 10 to 100 meters of floss. They are also available in single-use holders. Floss picks have specially designed plastic handle to hold the floss. (Read: Dental hygiene basics)
Older adults who have trouble manipulating floss with their fingers can use battery-operated electric floss which removes plaque effectively and is safe to use. The device contains a floss-like string that vibrates rapidly between the teeth. The vibrating action stimulates the gums too. (Read:Bleeding Gums)
Floss gently and thoroughly once a day, preferably after you are done with eating for the day, i.e. before you go to sleep.
Flossing prior to brushing is thought to facilitate fluoride from the toothpaste to reach between your teeth
To floss efficiently, you need to break off and wrap about 18 to 20 inches of floss around your middle fingers, winding each end of the floss into middle finger of each hand leaving a few inches of floss to clean your teeth with.
Irregular and improper flossing can lead to bleeding gums. When you insert the floss at the top of the tooth and guide it gently downwards between your teeth you need to take care not to snap the floss into the gums. You should place it beneath the gum line and gently curve the floss around each tooth making a C-shape and then remove food debris by scraping the side as well as front and back of each tooth with back-and-forth motion.
Use a clean section of floss to clean each tooth. This will avoid transferring plaque bacteria from one tooth to another.