Starting Your Regular Daily Flossing Regime

A look at some of the challenges and tips for better oral health through flossing.

It is the start of a new year, and perhaps no better time to start to make changes to our lives. There are many pieces of advice that we offer our Wickford patients to help them to have better oral health, but perhaps one of the most simple of these is the introduction of dental floss into their daily routine, for those who currently don’t do it.

There is every chance that you don’t use dental floss at this point. Nearly four in five of us don’t do this, yet it is a simple task that takes very little time, yet really can contribute significantly to a healthier mouth.

Types of flossing

Before we look at the ‘hows’, it is worth acknowledging that there are now a variety of methods available. Not only the string type of floss that most of our patients are probably familiar with, but also inter-dental sticks and even water flossers. Whilst all of these have their advocates (and opposers), the view of our Cygnet Dental Practice team is that the standard ‘string’ type of floss is more than adequate for the job.

Starting to floss

We know, from patient feedback, that some people really do find it a struggle to floss between their teeth. It is true that it can be a little fiddly initially, but most people soon get the hang of it and it is certainly worth persevering with. If you really do struggle after watching tutorial videos etc, then pop along to our Wickford dental practice. We will be only too happy to offer our help and advice!

When you start flossing, it is worth remembering that you only need to do so in the evening (though some may wish to remove stubborn food directly after a meal too) and should be done, ideally,  after you brush your teeth. If you can only brush before though, or find that much easier to do, it is much better to do so than not to floss at all.

Initial bleeding

Some patients have reported that their gums started to bleed when they first used dental floss, and that the floss had caused them to cut their gums. Unless you have done it incorrectly, and too forcefully, this is highly unlikely. What is more likely is that gum disease may be present and the bleeding is just a sign that you should keep flossing in this area over a period of time in order to remove the bacteria/plaque that is causing the gum disease. If the bleeding has not subsided after a fortnight, you should make an appointment to have your gum health checked at our Wickford practice.

Whether your gums initially bleed or not, we strongly advise anyone setting off on this path to have their teeth cleaned professionally by our hygienist first. This will help to give you a clean bill of health before you start, allowing you to maintain, rather than ‘cure’ the health of your gums.

How to floss

In many ways, it is better to watch a professional video such as this one rather than read a description. The main point though is not to use a ‘sawing motion’ but to floss between your teeth gently. It only takes a few minutes of your time and is well worth it to avoid the problems that may otherwise arise.

A word about waterpiks

As a generation accustomed to new developments, it can be tempting to want the latest techniques to achieve our aims. This includes how we look after our teeth. One of the latest ‘inventions’ to come onto the market are waterpiks. The aim of these is to use very fine jets of water to ‘blast’ away food and bacteria that gets trapped between our teeth.

In our opinion, these are not always as good as traditional dental floss. Whist they may help to remove some food particles, they are less likely to remove bacteria, in the form of plaque, that has become stuck to your teeth and gums. It is also worth pointing out that they can be messy, especially if you don’t take sufficient care, and some users have also reported sensations of retching where the jets of water have missed their target and hit the back of the throat. Our advice is first to try the various brands of dental floss available and use the one that you find to be most suitable for you. We have a range of these at our Wickford practice and are happy to offer advice.

You should never ignore your gums. Good gum health is important, and unhealthy gums can sometimes lead to tooth loss. Keeping them clean is relatively straightforward but does require regular care. If you feel that your general oral health has deteriorated and would like to seek professional advice on how to restore it, please make an appointment to see one of the dental team at the Cygnet Dental Practice by calling us on 01268 733078.