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Why Flossing Is A Must, Not A Maybe

No matter how you try to avoid it, flossing your teeth is an essential part of a good oral hygiene regimen. Or at least it should be. In the past, you’ve been advised to brush at least twice each day for a healthy mouth, but that’s only the beginning. We now know that flossing is vital as well. In fact, many dentists state that flossing once is the equivalent of brushing twice. You should still brush regularly, but make sure that flossing is also a part of your routine.

When you eat or drink anything that’s high in sugar and carbohydrates, the sugar coats your gums and teeth and combines with the bacteria in your mouth to form acids. When not removed through brushing and flossing, the acids turn into plaque and attack the gums and tooth enamel. Plaque is very hard and can only be removed by a dentist.

Not removing plaque isn’t an option. When it remains on the teeth, it causes inflammation and decay in the teeth and gums and results in gingivitis. Eventually, gingivitis will turn into gum disease and destroy your jawbone and your facial structure, and you’ll eventually lose your teeth. It’s incredible but true that a simple strand of dental floss can prevent this much damage!

Flossing also prevents other health issues. Research has shown that poor oral hygiene contributes to health issues such as cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, diabetes, and obesity. Regular flossing can eliminate the bacteria that cause these diseases, so be sure to include at least daily flossing in your dental hygiene routine.

Everyone needs to floss, no matter their age. However, those who take some types of prescription medications are more vulnerable to oral decay and disease – especially those who are older – so they should be especially dedicated to their brushing and flossing habits. Since the saliva continually cleanses the mouth, those who take prescription medications that cause dry mouth may be more inclined to develop disease and cavities. If you’re in this group, talk to your dentist about keeping your mouth healthy.

Along with the need to floss regularly, you need to know the proper method for flossing. Measure about 18 inches of floss – it may help to wind it around your index fingers a couple of times – guide it down between two teeth, then pull it back and forth, and then up and down. This ensures that you reach all the crevices between your teeth and remove all the particles. Repeat this motion for each tooth, use a fresh piece of floss each time, and rinse your mouth thoroughly after flossing.

Keep Your Kids’ Teeth Flossed Too!

As important as flossing is for adults, it’s equally important for kids too! It may be more challenging, but it will help them establish lifelong good dental habits and can prevent major dental problems when they become adults. As soon as your child has two abutting teeth, start teaching them how to floss. Although it may be more challenging to teach a child this young, the long-term benefits are worth it.

Five Easy Ways to Motivate Kids to Floss

It may be easier to motivate kids to floss when they have an incentive. The following ideas may help get your kids motivated to adopt a regular flossing routine.

  1. Chart their success: Hang a flossing chart on the bathroom wall and add a favorite sticker each time they floss. Several days of flossing can yield an incentive such as a movie or a later bedtime.
  2. Party it up: Turn flossing time into party time with an adventure story or dance party and music. Use your imagination to turn flossing into a fun activity.
  3. Praise prodigiously: Everyone loves praise and positive reinforcement, and kids are no different. Be sure to praise their flossing endeavors so that they feel good about their new healthy habit. Just be genuine in your praise.
  4. Use kid-friendly flossers: Flossing tools for kids are colorful and fun, not like the boring tools adults use. Brightly colored floss sticks are popular, and some are even fluorescent! They’re smaller, so they’re easy for kids to hold, and there’s a lot in a pack, so don’t worry about your kids using several of them when they floss.
  5. Follow the leader: You can’t expect your kids to floss if you don’t floss, so lead by example. Making flossing time a family event with family rewards will be the best motivator for both you and your kids.

Four Easy Steps to Foolproof Flossing

The American Dental Association says there are four simple steps to flossing, so practice these so you can correctly show your kids.

  1. Wind: Grasp about 18 inches of floss between your index fingers and thumbs. Pull tightly at each end.
  2. Guide: Use your index fingers to lead the floss up and down between each tooth.
  3. Glide: Smoothly glide the floss between the teeth and around the gum line, using gentle pressure.
  4. Slide: Using a clean part of the floss for each tooth, slide the floss up and down the surface of each tooth and under the gums.

For those who dislike dental floss, there are other options, such as a hand-held flosser or an electric flosser. They achieve the same results, but the technique for using them may vary somewhat.

For those who have braces or dentures or other dental appliances, be careful not to tangle the floss in the appliance. Ask your dentist about special floss for orthodontic appliances and how to use it or for floss threaders that are designed to work in small spaces. Whatever you use, make sure that you don’t damage your teeth, gums, or your appliance.

Flossing every day will soon become a habit that you can’t live without. It makes your mouth feel and taste cleaner, and it contributes to a healthier body as well. If you’d like to learn more about flossing, ask your dentist for guidance. You can also call Dental Associates of Northern Virginia at for information about the benefits of flossing. We’d love to help you, so give us a call.

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