Kick the toothpick and Floss like a boss!

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

November 21, 2019

It’s every dentist’s dream to see all their patients flossing every day and maintaining their oral hygiene, and every patient’s dream to have a mouth free of dental problems and a floss can make them come true.

Why should you floss?

woman-is-brushing-her-teeth-using-dental-floss

Flossing daily is not that difficult or time consuming as it sounds. As everyone uses soaps to bathe but still feel the need of scrubbing their body with body scrubbers, flossing daily is similarly important along with brushing twice.

No matter what we use to maintain good dental health, if we fail to use dental floss we still can expect dental problems to happen. These dental problems can progress over a period of time or can happen suddenly, resulting in gum diseases or cavities.

Cavities, gum infections, gum swellings, gum irritations, gum pockets, bleeding gums, etc can happen if flossing is taken for granted.

toothpicks-box

Why should you stop using toothpicks?

It is a common practice to use a toothpick to remove the food particles that are stuck on our teeth or between our teeth. Toothpicks usually made out of plastic or wood can be harmful not only to your teeth but also your gums.


Spacing between your teeth

When we use a toothpick and push it between the teeth it creates more space between the teeth. This space calls in for more food to accumulate. Using a toothpick and pushing it forcefully can also tear the gums and cause bleeding. The micro-organisms enter the affected area and can cause redness, swelling, and other gum infections.

Cuts and injuries

Accidental toothpick injuries can tear the gum tissue and cause bleeding and ulcers in the mouth.

Bad breath

Tooth picking constantly can also cause halitosis.

Attrition

Having a habit of constantly biting on a toothpick can cause wearing off of the teeth(attrition) or pits and ditches on the tooth(abrasion).

Infections

Toothpicks are not sterilized so you might be more prone to infections while tooth picking.

Should you floss before brushing or after?

Researches from the American Academy of Periodontology state that flossing first loosens the bacteria present in between the teeth and brushing afterwards further clears the mouth of this debris.

They also state that fluoride(fluoride prevents tooth cavities) present in the toothpaste remained in the mouth at higher levels when people flossed before brushing.

Choose the type of floss you want

When choosing a dental floss, look for wide, waxed ‘ribbon’ floss. The width covers a larger surface area than thinner floss and removes more hard-to-reach food and bacteria, while the wax minimizes gum irritation by helping it to slide easily between the teeth.

1.Traditional flosses

Traditional floss

Learning the right way is very important. Traditional flosses can be difficult and tedious to use when it comes to flossing daily.

Wind

Take about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around each index finger, leaving an inch or two of it to hold it.

Guide

Holding the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it gently up-and-down between your teeth.

Slide&Glide

Slide and glide with an in and out motion between your teeth.
Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gum line. Never force, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue. You can simply clean the floss to clean the rest of the sections or you can take a new piece of the floss to do so.

Remove

To removes the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion upwards to bring it up and away from the teeth.
Repeat this between all the teeth.

2.Floss picks/Flossettes

Floss pick is a type that reduces the hassle of winding it around your fingers. This is similar to the shape of a saw. All you need to is just glide it between your teeth and floss the area in an “in and out motion” and gradually pulling it upwards to remove it.

Floss picks are easy to use. They’re small and handy, so one can carry it with them and use it as and when they want.

3.Electric Floss

Electric floss

The basic flossing techniques remain the same. Guide the floss gently into place and move the flosser back and forth to create a zig-zag motion. If you have trouble reaching the back sides of the back teeth you don’t need to worry, you can use an electric floss.

These flossers have angled handles that make it easier to reach the tricky spots. An electric flosser is easier and friendlier to use on a daily basis.

4.Water Jet Floss

Are you failing to floss daily because you are lazy?

Then water floss or jet floss is another easier way to clean your teeth. Water jet floss is a device that jets out water stream at high speed and mechanically removes the food particles that are stuck between the teeth.

Water jet floss sometimes may not be that effective as food particles and the plaque might be very sticky or stubborn. And so you may have to use a floss pick.

The water jet is generally used by old patients who have difficulty holding floss, people using braces, in cases where pushing the floss between the teeth is difficult. A water jet type is also found to be very effective in cleaning the areas beneath the caps and bridges without having to worry much.

What can happen if you go wrong while flossing?

  • Painful gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swelling of gums
  • Tearing of the gums and lips
  • Gum ulcers

Hence using the right technique to floss your teeth is very important. If you are finding it difficult to floss daily you can simply use a jet type or you can visit your dentist once a month and ask your dentist to floss for you. Get cleaning and polishing done every six months to 1 year.

Most of the root canal treated teeth start hurting because people are not flossing

Few surveys prove people’s psychology that once a tooth is treated with a root canal treatment and a cap is placed it need not require any care. A root canal treated tooth actually requires more care and maintenance.

Food particles and bacteria still get stuck between the teeth. These bacteria if not flushed out enter the space between the cap and the tooth and cause cavities below the cap. Failing to floss is one of the major reasons why root canal treatments are not successful. Hence everyone should floss to prevent tooth loss.

Highlights

  • No matter how hard you try to have a good oral hygiene, failing to floss daily can still leave you with gum infections and tooth cavities.
  • Using toothpicks can be harmful for your gums. Reach out for the floss instead.
  • Flossing the right way will not cause bleeding gums and spacing between your teeth.
  • One must floss first and then brush.
  • If you are lazy enough or do not have the time to floss your teeth you can use easy to use floss-picks or invest in a water jet flosser.

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  1. Shubham L - Thank you for the information, I used bite my nails. Now taking care.

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Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.
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