It is likely a safe bet to say you have brushed your teeth today. But according to statistics by the American Dental Association, the bet for flossing may not be as sure. They report that only 50% of Americans actually floss on a daily basis, with up to 18% of Americans that do not floss at all. This is a devastating statistic considering the fact that flossing is responsible for cleaning almost a third of your tooth’s surface. Since it removes harmful bacteria and plaque build-up, flossing is a powerful weapon against gum disease, tooth decay and other serious health problems.
How do you rate your own flossing habit? It may be one extra step in your oral hygiene routine, but it is one that should be considered essential, not optional.
To ensure you are getting the most out of your flossing routine, adhere to the following tips:
- Find a floss that you like. If you like it, you will use it. With the advancement in flossing options over the last decade, there is truly no excuse for not taking on the task. There are countless techniques and flossing tools on the market today. You have options between woven floss, floss embedded with fluoride, floss coated with Teflon®, uncoated floss, whitening floss, thin floss, thick floss and a variety of flavored flosses to suit your tastes. If you want to make the job even easier, opt for a Y-shaped floss holder (great for kids) or the latest flossing machine such as the AirFloss by Sonicare.
- Pay attention to your technique. For best plaque-removing results, gently work the floss between your teeth using a sawing motion. As you work into each space, try pulling the floss sideways and scrape off the insides of your teeth in an up-and-down motion. Floss between teeth that are well-spaced as well as those with tight crevices.
- Don’t forget your gum line. You will miss one of the major benefits to flossing if you do not floss under the gum line around each tooth. You will be able to eliminate food debris and bacteria that a toothbrush simply cannot reach.
Group Health Dental agrees that the best advice about flossing is simply to do it, and not just before your six month checkup. A few extra minutes in front of the mirror can save your wallet and health from costly dental complications in the future.