To Floss or Not to Floss

shirtless man holding dental floss and smilingWhen our hygienists talk with our patients from Edison and the surrounding towns, we inquire if they floss regularly. Most say they do. The key word here probably would be “regularly,” as every now and then doesn’t equate to that. Regardless, our hygienists can tell if you’re a regular flosser or not anyway by how your teeth and gums look in the spaces in between the teeth.

Flossing is misunderstood, people think it’s an ordeal to do every day. Reality is, flossing only takes about 30 seconds or less and it has an important role in your dental hygiene.

Since spring is all about new beginnings after a long New Jersey winter, let’s start anew with flossing in April’s blogs.

How Does Flossing Help?

Flossing daily is important, not for the surfaces you can hit with your toothbrush, but for those you can’t. It’s hard to adequately clean the sides of your teeth and the gums between your teeth. Your toothbrush can reach some of these spots, but it isn’t efficient doing so.

But dental floss is. When you floss the sides of your teeth down slightly under the gumline in the organized tooth-by-tooth progression, the floss removes plaque. Plaque is the sticky, colorless film that is constantly forming on your teeth. When saliva, food, and fluids combine, plaque (which contains bacteria) forms on your teeth and along the gumline. Plaque begins re-forming on your teeth from 4 to 12 hours after you brush. That’s why it’s recommended to brush twice a day.

When you floss, you break up the plaque between your teeth and along the gumline. You don’t have to saw aggressively — actually that can be detrimental to your gums — but you need to slide the floss up and down the tooth and under the gumline. This works to break up the plaque that your toothbrush couldn’t access. The key is to simply break up the plaque, as this sets it back in its endless attempt to cover your teeth.

And you know what happens to plaque left to its own devices, right? It becomes tartar. But that’s another blog subject.

Until then, if it’s time for your next cleaning and exam, call us at Gentle Dental, (732) 549-5660.

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