At the end of the day, we all come home tired. We spend our days working, playing, and completing all of our other to-do’s. Unfortunately, this often means that you are more likely to skip little things at the end of your day – things like flossing your teeth.
Most people remember to at least brush their teeth, but flossing is a different story entirely. However, if you don’t floss your teeth regularly, it can have just as much a negative effect on your oral health as forgetting to brush your teeth regularly.
Flossing can be painful and uncomfortable at times, especially if you haven’t flossed in a long time, but the benefits far outweigh the discomfort you may feel at the beginning.
Plaque and Tartar
As you eat throughout the day, food particles can gather on the surface of your teeth, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive.
As the bacteria feeds on the food particles left in your mouth, it starts to form a thin film on the surface of your teeth called plaque. This plaque, made up of millions of bacteria, continually eats away at the enamel of your teeth, and can eventually lead to cavities.
If left alone, cavities can reach the pulp of your tooth, causing infections and abscessed teeth. If it’s not removed, plaque can eventually become tartar, a thicker and harder-to-remove form of plaque. Tartar gathers heavily at your gum line and can lead you to gum disease.
Brushing your teeth on a regular basis takes care of most of the plaque that forms on your teeth throughout the day. However, there are plenty of places in your mouth that your toothbrush can’t reach. The bristles of your toothbrush typically can’t reach between your teeth, which is why flossing is so important.
Flossing removes plaque forming in the hard-to-reach places between your teeth that brushing can’t remove. As you floss at least once a day, you can take care of that plaque, and make sure it doesn’t become tartar.
Flossing the Right Way
Just like brushing, you need to floss the right way to remove as much plaque as you can.
Start by pulling out 18 to 24 inches of floss. Wrap most of the floss around your middle fingers on both hands, but leave an inch or two to use for the actual flossing.
Pull the floss tight and gently insert it between your teeth.
Push the floss down to your gums and a little below the gum line and then pull it back out from between your teeth.
Make sure to never force floss, as it may bruise your gums or cause them to bleed.
When you move onto a new space, use a new portion of the floss.
When Is the Best Time to Floss?
Should you floss before or after you brush your teeth? What about the morning or the evening? When it comes to flossing, every answer is the right answer.
The most important thing you can do is to set a consistent flossing schedule and stick to an effective dental hygiene routine, including regular dental cleanings. If you floss in the morning, try to floss every morning. If you floss at night, try to floss every night. As you are consistent with flossing, you will greatly lessen the risk of plaque on your teeth forming into tartar.
Set some specific goals for your routine and create a checklist or daily log to track how well you’re following it.
Before you know it, these simple routines will become a habit, and your flossing skills will keep your smile healthy and beautiful.