For many people, home dental care stops at brushing your teeth. But brushing only cleans three out of five exposed surfaces of a tooth, or 60%. The way to clean the remaining 40% is by flossing.
When people don’t take the time to floss properly, they can end up with significant health problems, including cavities. The vast majority of cavities filled are in “flossing surfaces” — that 40% of the tooth that brushing alone doesn’t clean.
Food debris and bacteria can pile up quickly in the tight spaces between adjacent teeth — or interdental spaces. This accumulation results in the destruction of the tooth, leading to the dreaded root canal.
Not flossing can also lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease, which occurs when bacterial biofilm — or plaque — builds up below the gum. The plaque causes gum tissue to become highly inflamed and sometimes ulcerated, which results in bleeding gums. If not treated quickly, the underlying bone support continues to migrate away from the presence of inflammation, which leads to tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss. Flossing helps keep bacterial biofilm from adhering in and around the tooth gum interface.
You can avoid all these oral health problems by flossing. Here are some tips and tricks to make it easy, fast, painless and, most of all, effective.
Floss before you brush to loosen debris and brush plaque away.
Never floss back and forth, as if you were sawing the space between your teeth. Doing so can cause gum tissue trauma and bleeding. Instead, move the floss vertically between each tooth.
The best time to floss is at night, and it should be part of your nightly routine.
Don’t hold your toothbrush with your palm. Instead, use your fingertips. The palm can prompt unnecessary excess force, which can lead to gum tissue trauma and tooth abrasion.
Massage your teeth and gums instead of brushing them roughly to avoid damage.
Dr. Timothy Pruett is a practicing dentist in Orlando, Fla., and is the founder of Flossolution — a line of oral healthcare products designed to make flossing and brushing fast, easy and painless. Flossolution is the first to combine flossing and brushing with its products and is the first sonic powered flossing device on the market. Dr. Pruett attended Marshall University, earning a bachelor of science in chemistry and went on to receive his doctorate in dental medicine at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. Dr. Pruett is a member of the Lake County Dental Society, Central Florida District Dental Association, past president of the Central Florida District Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, and is a fellow of the American College of Dentists as well as a fellow of the International College of Dentists.