Dental floss is a tool you should use daily to remove food and bacteria build-up from in-between your teeth. Floss is commonly made out of plastic or nylon; it is a thin thread that you put between your teeth and pull in order to clean the gaps. As you pull on the thread, food and debris should come out of the gaps.
Benefits of Using Dental Floss
Brushing alone doesn’t clean your entire mouth; it only cleans the surface of your teeth. You need to floss in order to clean out the gaps between your teeth, where bacteria often reside. If you don’t floss, you’re more likely to have plaque build-up, which can lead to cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and a high body mass index. In addition, bacteria can cause bad breath and having food or debris between your teeth can make them look less clean or white. Thus, flossing can help improve the appearance of your mouth as well as your dental hygiene and overall health.
How Often Should You Floss?
It’s more important to take your time and floss correctly than it is to floss often. If you floss several times a day but do it quickly, you’ll miss a lot of the bacteria and debris you need to clean out. This defeats the purpose of flossing. It’s far better to floss only once a day and do it slowly so that you clean your entire mouth.
Of course, it’s still important to floss regularly; if you don’t floss at least once a day, you won’t get all the health benefits.
Dental Floss for Braces
If you or your child currently wears braces, flossing is even more important. Food and bacteria can easily lodge underneath braces and cause permanent damage to your teeth. However, you have to be careful when flossing so that you don’t damage your braces.
Always use waxed flossing products if you have braces. Unwaxed products have less of a slippery surface and are therefore more likely to get caught or tangled in your braces. If enough floss gets tangled, it can pull a brace out of alignment or otherwise break it.
There’s a specific technique you should use when flossing your braces. If your children have braces, you may need to help them with it, as it requires a bit of coordination. Start with the teeth at one side of your mouth. Carefully thread the floss underneath the wire and between two teeth, then gently pull up and down. When you have flossed these two teeth, remove the floss from under the brace wire and throw it away. Repeat this procedure on the next two teeth. It may take a long time to floss your teeth using this method, but it’s the best method to use because it reduces the risk of breaking your braces.