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Why flossing is good for your gum health

Floss

Our teeth are probably the most defining of our facial features, especially when we smile. While we all do brush as regularly as we can, there are a few dental hygiene aids that we tend to forget, like flossing for example. According to Dr. Arun K Vasudevan, Consultant Periodontist, Head – Quality & Training, Apollo WHITE Dental says that most Indians do not even know that there is such a thing as flossing that they need to do at least once a day to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent the development of gum disease.  Here is all you need to know about flossing and why you should do it.

Why you should floss

It is well recognized that dental plaque is what starts gum disease and tooth decay. The formation of dental plaque is in turn dependent on maintenance of oral hygiene. Even with the most diligent brushing, food particles that are caught in between teeth are not removed. Unfortunately, the gum tissue that is present in between teeth is more vulnerable to developing disease than that is seen on the outer and inner surfaces of teeth. This is where flossing comes in. when used properly, flossing can be an effective interdental cleanser and therefore an extremely useful tool to prevent gum disease.

Is flossing really required?

There are a plethora of oral health devices available. So it is not surprising that Indians look at floss as just another way of complicating their daily routine. However, literature is not ambivalent on this issue. There is a large body of evidence, beautifully summarised by Claydon, that shows a direct correlation between lack of flossing and the development of gum disease.

Considering that India has a very high prevalence of gum disease, it is all the more important that people use floss here. Brushing alone is not enough, you have to use floss in between your teeth to keep your interdental areas clean and prevent gum disease.

How to floss

  • Floss commonly supplied in plastic dispensers that contain 10 to 100 meters of thread like material. After pulling out the desired amount, pulling against a small protected blade in the dispenser to sever.
  • Now hold the string of floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers. Then slide gently up-and-down between your teeth.
  • Gently curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Never snap or force as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue.  After the area is thoroughly cleaned, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss back up and away from the teeth.
  • For people who face difficulty in doing this, floss is also available with holding devices called floss holders. The floss holders can be used to easily guide floss between teeth and bring out all that is caught in the interdental areas.

Remember floss is to be used in between all natural teeth, between teeth and artificial crowns, bridges and even around implants.

Who should floss and how often? 

Ideally, you should floss once a day. More importantly everyone should floss including children. Flossing is even more critical for people who are prone to gum disease or those who have had gum treatments as preventive measure.

What type of floss should one use?

Available in various forms, you can use whatever suits you best or follow your dentist’s advice. Here are a few types that are commonly available:

Based on material:

  • Nylon (or multifilament) floss-waxed and unwaxed, and in a variety of flavours (Mint). Because many strands of nylon make this type, I may sometimes tear or shred, especially between teeth with tight contact points.
  • PTFE (monofilament) floss-More expensive, single filament ; slides easily between teeth, even those with tight spaces between teeth, and is virtually shred-resistant.

Based on shape:

  • String or ribbon.
  • The ribbon floss is wider than string and used when a person has some space in between their teeth. This added width will allow for the proper friction needed to clean in between teeth.The string floss is thinner than ribbon and is normally used when the spaces between the teeth are much narrower.

Waxed/ Unwaxed

  • The wax in the floss will make it easier for floss to be slided in between the teeth.

Super floss

  • Is ideal for patients with crowns, bridges, orthodontic appliances,
  • It offers easy insertion with a stiff end threader.

 

  • Effectively cleans large interproximal areas with soft, spongy floss