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Why Do I Need to Floss My Teeth Every Day?

oral hygiene routineYou might be brushing your teeth twice daily as recommended by dentists worldwide including Dr. David J. Weinstock, a respected dentist in Bala Cynwyd, PA, in the Philadelphia area. However, brushing alone is not enough to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. While brushing is an integral part of your oral hygiene regimen, flossing is equally as important and essential. Brushing your teeth only removes the bacteria and particles forming plaque from places in your mouth that are easiest to reach, leaving your teeth at risk from tooth decay from plaque developing between your teeth.

Plaque is formed when saliva combines with food particles to create a sticky but clear and colorless substance that coats your teeth. In plaque, the usually harmless bacteria that reside in all our mouths, find an ideal environment to live, feed and reproduce. They begin to eat away at the plaque and then keep right on going down into your tooth enamel, which eventually leads to cavities.

Why Is Flossing Every Day So Important?

Flossing helps prevent tooth decay so that you can avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that can become necessary when tooth decay is allowed to continue untreated between teeth. Because flossing removes the plaque that your toothbrush can’t easily reach in places like between your teeth, it is vitally important to do it. However, it is also important that you are flossing correctly and effectively.

How to Floss Correctly

  1. Wrap a length of floss about eighteen inches long around your fingers. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the already used floss toward the finger with less floss wrapped around it and access a fresh length.
  2. Push the floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” (back and forth) motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
  3. Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently slide up and down your tooth. Do this several times, making sure to go slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. Repeat this process for each tooth.
  4. Again be sure to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean stretch of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can make you sick if reintroduced later
  5. Don’t worry too much if you see that your gums are bleeding as you floss. A little bleeding is perfectly normal if you don’t floss regularly. This bleeding is caused by bacterial inflammation. If you floss daily as recommended by your dentist, you should see an improvement in the state of your gums in one to two weeks.

Floss Picks Are Less Effective Than You Think

Some patients prefer to use the “Y” shaped floss picks available at most stores. These pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” can clean between the teeth. However, dentists prefer using a length of “free” floss and your hands. Floss picks don’t allow for proper flossing due to the fact that you cannot wrap them around a tooth in the “U” shape recommended. However, using a floss pick it’s still better than not flossing at all.

Schedule An Appointment With Your Dentist

Most dentists agree that flossing after your brush is best as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss.  If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call (215) 857-8054 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Weinstock in Bala Cynwyd, PA in the greater Philadelphia area today.