Brushing twice a day is a great start to your oral health routine, but Dr. Blaylock in Durham, NC wants you to floss, too. Brushing your teeth only removes bacteria and food residue from the surface of the teeth, but flossing removes this cavity-causing material from between the teeth as well. Flossing after brushing will keep your smile healthy.
Food residue and bacteria combine with saliva to create plaque, a sticky but clear and colorless substance that sticks to your teeth. Bacteria thrive on plaque and eventually begin to erode tooth enamel, which eventually leads to cavities. Enamel is a protective layer over the teeth to keep teeth strong, but it’s prone to attack from too many bacteria, especially in hard-to-reach places like between the teeth.
This is where flossing makes a huge difference. Flossing removes the plaque between your teeth that often cause cavities. But how do you floss correctly?
How to Floss
- Take an eighteen-inch long piece of floss and wrap it around your middle fingers. You’ll use your thumb and forefingers to move the floss. Wrap more of the floss around one finger so you can wind the used floss around the finger with less floss on it as you go through your mouth.
- Place the floss between two teeth and gently move the floss back and forth from the top of the tooth to the bottom.
- Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape, then gently slide up and down the tooth. Make sure to go slightly underneath the gumline, too. Repeat for the adjacent tooth.
- Before moving on to the next tooth, wind the used floss around the finger with less floss on it so you can use a fresh length for the next area. Bacteria can stick to floss and defeat the purpose if you don’t use a fresh length.
Things to Know
Don’t worry too much if you notice some bleeding as you floss. Over the next several days, that inflammation will start to subside as your gum health improves.
While it may be tempting to use the convenient floss picks that are widely available, we still recommend the old-fashioned way that we just described. Floss picks don’t allow you to use a new piece of floss every time, and they don’t allow the flexibility to make that “U” shape around each tooth. Plus, using regular floss reduces waste — but these picks are preferable to not flossing at all.
Brushing and flossing are a vital part of your oral health routine. Make sure you’re seeing Dr. Blaylock for regular cleanings and consultations to keep your smile healthy for the long haul. If you haven’t visited in a while, schedule an appointment online or call 919.518.9963 today.