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Is Faithful Flossing A Farce?


We have had many patients ask us over the last few months if the news is right, “Is it true that we don’t need to floss anymore?” Dr Gary Findley’s reaction was hysterical laughter! If the amazing dentists at Olympus View Dental have been right all along, is the news wrong?

Because of today’s high standards of scientific evidence being required for any healthcare recommendation, dental scholars have finally admitted there is not enough statistical power behind the available research to prove flossing reduces cavities and gum disease. However, this does not suggest flossing does not reduce these dental diseases, it only means better research is needed.

Why Should I Floss? Flossing removes food, dental plaque, and tartar from between our teeth making them stronger and healthier, which will make you healthier. It will also help to remove stains you might find between your teeth.

How Does Flossing Keep Me Healthy? The common thread between oral health and general health is inflammation. If the gums become inflamed, then your body is sending inflammation fighters not just to your gums, but to your whole body. Good oral health has been shown to be associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and stroke.

What’s the Best Way to Floss?

  1. Pull out 18 inches of floss and wrap around both middle fingers – this will give your index fingers the added dexterity needed to reach those tougher areas.

  2. Hold the floss between your index and thumb fingers and gently glide the floss back and forth on either side of every tooth, including the backside of your last teeth.

  3. Bend the floss around the gum line of each tooth and run it up and down.

How Long Should I Be Flossing?

2-3 minutes for most people with most their teeth. Remember to only floss the teeth you want to stick around.

How Should I Floss My Braces? Braces are certainly a challenge to floss, but you can do a great job with the right tools and a little time. Flossers or floss threaders are available that can fit behind the orthodontic wire and between teeth. Also, you can use what are called proxy brushes or what we like to call Christmas tree brushes because of their characteristic pine tree shape.

What Kind of Floss is the Best?

Whatever floss you will use regularly. Dental floss comes in all different styles, flavors, and materials. Find your favorite and use it.

  • Unwaxed Floss: nylon threads twisted together – great for tight spaces, but likely to fray.

  • Waxed Floss: nylon threads twisted together with a light wax coating – may make it harder to get in tight spots

  • Dental Tape: broader and flatter than traditional floss – good for those with wider contacts

  • PTFE (Teflon, or Gore-Tex): A favorite for those with tight contacts because it is less likely to fray. A common brand is Glide buy Oral-B.

  • Super Floss: has a yarn like consistency with a stiff end – these are made for easy cleaning around braces and dental bridges

Alternatives to Dental Floss?

  • Flosser: easy to hold plastic handle with a small thread of floss – huge advantage if dexterity is a problem.

  • Floss Holder: all shapes and sizes to hold your floss for you – convenient, but can be a challenge to thread or expensive.

  • Waterpik: High pressure water or mouthwash irrigation of gums – good for those with areas with big spaces or for those who really struggle with floss.

When Should You Floss? Daily. However, make flossing easy! Put floss or flossers in places you frequent the most, such as: next to the couch, in your desk, in your car, in your purse, or even in your pocket. Flossing can be a powerful sleeping pill if you wait until the last minute of the day. Floss after every meal by making the floss quick to find. When Should My Child Start Flossing? As soon as a baby’s teeth start to touch. When teeth touch, that is when food, bacteria, and plaque begin to build up.

Should I Floss Before or After I Brush? Just floss, but theoretically, if you floss first, it will give fluoride a better chance of staying on your teeth longer and thus, making them stronger. Should I Floss if There is No Food Between My Teeth? Of course! Floss not only removes food, but also acidic plaque that causes cavities. If you do not remove this plaque, it can build up and create tartar or cavities. Will Flossing Prevent Bad Breath? Definitely! Food, plaque, and tartar can build up in between your teeth and become a big source of bad breath. Be consistent and you, and those around you, will quickly notice the benefits of good flossing.

Do You Hate to Floss? If flossing causes you to be stressed out then try a different kind of floss. There are so many different types of floss, there’s no excuse for not finding one which would work for you.

Is It Bad If My Gums Bleed After Flossing? NO! If you gums bleed, even a lot, after flossing, then you need to be a more regular flosser. If you floss correctly and consistently you will notice over a few weeks your gums becoming less painful and less likely to bleed.

I Can’t Floss Because it Hurts to Much! Flossing definitely can be quite painful at times, but it does not need to hurt! With the proper technique, begin with gentle flossing and over a few weeks become more and more aggressive with the floss (within reason). You will notice your gums becoming tougher and the pain becoming weaker.

Does Your Floss Fray? This is a good reason to come see one of the awesome dentists at OVD. Fraying floss is most often an indication of a filling or tooth that has chipped or decayed and prompt care is important. Fraying can also be due to tartar building up and its time to clean it up.

Flossing on Blood Thinners? This is a common misconception in the medical community, but we challenge anyone who might think this to stop brushing and flossing for a few weeks and see how their gums feel. The gums will be red, puffy, inflamed, and much more prone to bleeding. The best advice is to be careful with the floss and start at a low intensity. Every time you floss, be smart. Remember, flossing will keep you healthier!

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