FREQUENTLY ASKED FLOSSING QUESTIONS
WHY SHOULD WE FLOSS?
It takes around 24 hours for plaque to form in our mouths, brushing twice daily and flossing once daily disrupts this plaque buildup. Floss goes between our teeth to reach those areas that are not effectively cleaned with our toothbrushes. Floss also goes below the gumline to break up those pesky bacteria that cause gum disease. Without flossing we are only cleaning about 60% of our tooth structure, the other 40% is between our teeth where our toothbrush bristles cannot get to.
HOW TO FLOSS
• Pull about 18 to 24 inches of floss from your floss dispenser, or as I always say, “pull an arm’s length of floss out.”
• Wrap the floss around your middle fingers, and use your thumb and/or index fingers to guide your floss.
• Hold about an inch of floss at a time. Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap the floss in a C-shape around one tooth at a time. Floss up and down against the side of each tooth. Hold the floss tautly to maintain the proper form. As you move to another tooth rotate the floss on your fingers so that you are using a new fresh inch of floss between each tooth.
• Don’t skip the back side of the last tooth in your mouth. Even though there is not another tooth touching the back side of that last tooth, there is still a pocket of tissue that can hide bacteria.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO FLOSS?
The average adult has 28 teeth in their mouth and each tooth takes about 4 seconds to floss. So keeping that in mind it should take at least 2 minutes to floss the entire mouth.
CAN FLOSS BE HARMFUL?
Flossing incorrectly can be harmful to your oral health. If you floss too vigorously or too quickly you can actually slice into your gum tissue. Try to make the C-shape as mentioned above and hug the side of each individual tooth when flossing.
CAN I FLOSS A FILLING OR CROWN?
Yes, you can floss around fillings and crowns. Both of these restorations are considered permanent in your mouth. They require flossing just like our natural teeth, to disrupt the plaque that can accumulate around them.
WHY AM I BLEEDING WHEN I FLOSS?
If you are flossing too aggressively or incorrectly you can cause bleeding. Most often bleeding is a sign of gum tissue inflammation, also known as gingivitis. Flossing correctly and flossing more often can help to decrease the amount of bleeding. In some occasions bleeding can be a sign of periodontitis, which is a form of gum disease that cannot be resolved without treatment from your dentist or dental hygienist.
DOES A WATERPIK TAKE THE PLACE OF FLOSS?
No, flossing gets below the gumline where a Waterpik cannot. Waterpiks are great adjunctive instruments in addition to flossing, to remove large pieces of debris as well as irrigate above the gumline.
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