Posted on April 15, 2016 by Joy Driscoll
Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it has a chance to harden into plaque. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces.
Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar, a hard mineral deposit that forms on teeth and can only be removed through professional cleaning by a dental professional. When this happens, brushing and cleaning between teeth become more difficult, and gum tissue can become swollen or may bleed. This condition is called gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease.
Flossing helps remove food debris and interproximal dental plaque, the plaque that collects between two teeth. Dental floss (or dental tape) helps clean these hard-to-reach tooth surfaces and reduces the likelihood of gum disease and tooth decay.
Flossing is an essential part of a daily routine with the recommendation of flossing once a day! Most people can get away with flossing or using a water flosser 3-4 times a week.
What’s in floss?
Floss was once made from silk fibers twisted to form a long strand. Today, floss is usually made from nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments. It may be treated with flavoring agents, such as mint, to make flossing more pleasant.
What’s the difference between waxed and unwaxed floss?
There is no difference in the effectiveness of waxed or unwaxed floss. It’s not what type of floss you use, but how and when you use it. If you have a preferred type of floss, you may be more likely to use it. The gortex floss like Glide is easier to use but not as effective at getting the sticky plaque removed.
What’s the difference between floss and other interdental cleaners?
Floss is a flexible strand. Other tools that may be used to clean between your teeth include small brushes, special wooden or plastic picks, sticks or water flossers. Water flossers have really come a long way in the past few years. The one modality I really do like based on studies is the WaterPik, in studies it has shown to reduce the bacteria deeper than regular floss. I also like water flossers for children with braces as it is difficult for them to clean around the brackets and this makes it easier and possible. At the end of the day I just want my patients to get between their teeth with something that will remove the plaque within 24 hours before it hardens into tarter (hard deposits).
Can I tell when patients are lying about if they have been flossing or not?
Most times we can tell, but sometimes someone just has good genetics and it’s hard to tell that they are not being truthful! It’s ok to be honest, we are just here to help you achieve a habit of flossing. I usually will keep the floss in my car or by my nightstand. If I left it in the bathroom it ends up being the last routine at night and I usually cut it out. By having it in my car or nightstand, I’m not as rushed in those places and I’m more likely to floss. So my suggestion is put the floss in a place that you don’t feel rushed, sitting in traffic may be good for your health if you floss! If you dislike floss all together because your teeth are tight and you find the floss breaking, use a water flosser!
The best thing you can do is just be honest to your Dental Hygienist in what is not working and we will most often brain storm with you! Remember it takes about 4-6 weeks to develop a habit, so be patient!
Below illistiates to wrap the floss in a “C” shape around the tooth and “Itch” the side of the tooth moving the floss up and down against the side of the tooth.