Your mouth is a gateway to your body, and your smile is one of your defining characteristics. Unlike your skin, your mouth doesn’t have a mechanism to shed or renew its surface. So healthy teeth and gums, a clean tongue, a bright smile, and fresh breath is all up to you.
At any given time there are about 600 species of bacteria at work in your mouth. If you don’t physically remove this bacteria within 24 to 48 hours, it will all turn into a pale yellow biofilm, more commonly called plaque. Plaque eats the sugars and carbohydrates in your mouth and uses that fuel to create acid that rots your teeth. Plaque is sticky and stinky, so if you don’t clean it away it won’t go away. If plaque isn’t removed then within days, it will hardens into tartar that can’t be brushed or flossed away.
Daily flossing should be an imperative aspect in everyone’s oral care routine. Flossing reduces bad breath and aids in the prevention of gum disease and cavities. Flossing cleans tooth surfaces that can’t be reached by brushing, and as you now know, if you don’t clean it, it’s not a matter of when but of how severe your tartar buildup and inevitable decay will be.
Flossing is an important factor in preventing bad breath. When correctly performed, flossing helps to remove the small particles of food lodged between the teeth and around the gums. Flossing is especially crucial in the removal of debris packed down into the hard to reach areas that most toothbrushes are unable to clean. Simply brushing and rinsing are not enough to maintain healthy teeth and gums. When food particles are not removed, they begin to collect and feed the growth of bacteria. By neglecting to floss, this buildup produces foul odors which results in bad breath.
There are different types of floss available for specific dental needs.
Individuals with braces have the option of spongy floss in addition to other flosses compatible with dental appliances. Larger floss or dental tape is available for teeth with gaps, and thin or waxed floss is best suited for teeth with small spaces between them. There are a few other types of floss available, including disposable floss tools and electric floss tools.
Flossing technique is the same no matter the type of floss being used. When flossing, it is best to use about 18 inches, and wrap each end around the middle finger of each hand until a one to two inch gap is left in the middle. The floss should be pinched on either side by the thumb and index fingers, allowing for ease of zig-zag motions. A common mistake made during flossing is snapping the floss between the teeth and hitting the gum. This damages the gums and causes bleeding. The floss should be angled between the teeth and gently pulled back and forth in a downward motion as to saw at the tooth to remove adhered plaque and debris. Flossing is especially necessary in removing particles between the back molars, as this is the area that most toothbrushes miss. Always use a clean section of floss for each area to be cleaned. Using the same section between several teeth will just move bacteria from one area of the mouth to another.
In addition to brushing and rinsing, be sure to floss daily and talk to your dentist about persistent bad breath, gum sensitivity or any other issues concerning your dental health.