Do you find it difficult or inconvenient to floss every day? You're not alone. According to a study by the Australian Dental Association (ADA), only around a quarter of adults say they clean between their teeth daily, despite this being recommended by dentists.
Read on to find out why flossing is beneficial, how to floss properly and what the alternatives are.
Why is flossing important?
Even if you already brush twice a day, flossing is important for keeping your teeth clean and maintaining good dental hygiene. The reason, which you can probably guess, is that dental floss can reach areas of your teeth and mouth that toothbrush bristles can't.
If you never or rarely floss, bacteria in plaque can get trapped and build up in the spaces between teeth, which can increase your risk of oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Food can also get trapped in your teeth, which feeds bacteria and can lead to bad breath.
Do kids need to floss?
Flossing is important for children as soon as their teeth grow close together, usually around the age of 2. Cleaning between their teeth once a day will lower their risk of developing uncomfortable dental problems and needing treatments such as fillings or a root canal.
As flossing is more fiddly than brushing, kids usually need help to floss properly until around the age of 10. Many children find alternatives such as floss holders easier to use at first.
What's the best way to floss?
If you find flossing uncomfortable or painful, you may be doing it wrong. Just like brushing your teeth, flossing should be done gently to avoid irritating your gums or damaging your teeth.
Flossing should be done alongside brushing at least once a day, either in the morning or at night. To clean with standard floss, dentists recommend:
- Pull out approximately 45cm of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of both hands.
- Hold the end of the floss between your thumbs and index fingers.
- Gently insert the floss into the space between two teeth. If it's a tight fit, ease it in with gentle sideways motions.
- Gently pull the floss back and forth to scrape the tooth. Move up the side of one tooth from the crown to the root.
- Clean around the edge of the gum, then clean the opposite tooth down to the crown.
- Do this for all the teeth in your mouth, spending an equal amount of time on each one to ensure thorough cleaning.
What are the alternatives to floss?
Not everyone likes the feel of floss. If this is discouraging you from flossing altogether, your dentist can recommend alternatives you might prefer. These include:
- Waxed or unwaxed floss
- Floss holders
- Dental tape
- Interdental brushes
- Soft picks
- Powered water flossers
Don't use toothpicks or other sharp objects to remove dirt or trapped food from between your teeth, as these can cause damage, injuries or even infections.
Need a dentist in Everton Park or Mitchelton?
For more oral health care advice or to see a local Brisbane dentist about anything that's troubling you, get in touch with our caring teams at Swish Dental in Everton Park and Mitchelton.