Why Do We Need to Brush and Floss?

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Andra Mahoney, BS RDH

Why Do We Need to Brush and Floss?

Many of you know two questions that your Dental Hygienist will inevitably asked you when you go in for your regular check-up visit:  “Are you brushing two times a day?” and “How is your flossing going?”

As an Hygienist, we do not asked these questions to get after you.  We promise we do not love nagging you to floss.  We do it because we genuinely care for your health and helping our patients understand how brushing and flossing can keep you healthy is one of our professional goals.

Most of you know the guidelines. For optimum dental health, you should brushing two times a day for two minutes, and floss one time a day.  We know that is what we are supposed to do.  But do we know why?

Plaque (that soft, filmy, white stuff that grows on our teeth) accumulates constantly.  24/7.  It never stops growing.  Even if you do not eat food, it grows (common misconception that plaque only grows when you eat).  Inside plaque lives bacteria.  This is the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease.  It is recommended that we brush two times a day to remove the plaque and disrupt the bacteria’s harm on our mouth.  If we do not remove the plaque, then we are allowing the bacteria to start creating cavities and cause inflammation and infection in our gums.

If the plaque is left in an area for a while then it will harden and calcify.  This is what we can tartar build-up, or you may even hear us refer to it as calculus.  While plaque is soft and can be removed with a toothbrush and floss, tartar is like a rock cemented onto your tooth.  You can brush and floss all day long, once it’s turned into calculus, it’s not going any where.  The biggest down side of that is that it still has the bacteria inside of it.  Now it’s stuck on your tooth, not going anywhere, with all this bacteria.  Even better for gum infections and things to occur.

Don’t worry, your awesome Hygienist will save you.  We have the tools and know-how to remove that calculus and get your mouth back to health!  But, so do you!  You can brush and floss every day, remove that plaque, and prevent that calculus from even forming!

Now many of you do brush your teeth.  Which is fantastic!  We love when you do that!  However, not as many of you floss.  I’m not sure why.  It’s just as important, and doesn’t really take that long.  Here’s something to remember when you want to skip flossing tonight… You can be THE most amazing brusher in the whole world, but you will never be able to clean between your teeth with just a toothbrush.  It’s a fact.  The best technique will not maneuver those toothbrush bristle to places they cannot physically reach.  Floss is the only way to clean the remaining 35% of your tooth that the brush did not get.  Floss is a toothbrush’s best friend.  They go hand in hand.  One just as important as the other.

I hope this helped you understand a bit more why we always ask these two simple questions.  If you have any other questions, we are here for you!  Just ask!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing

http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/teeth.html

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Teethcleaningguide.aspx

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happens-if-you-dont-brush-and-floss-your-teeth-2014-2

Flossing: More Than Just a Guilt Trip

AriannaM

Arianna Ritchey, RDH

Flossing: More Than Just a Guilt Trip

As a part of a regular preventive or periodontal maintenance visit with your dental hygienist, the topic of flossing usually comes up.  Most people have at least heard of flossing, and while some people floss regularly, most patients I see report flossing less than the ADA recommended once per day.  More often, people fall into the categories of flossing “once in a while” or “once in a blue moon.”  While some people are embarrassed to admit this to their dental hygienist, the condition and health of your gums reveal a lot about your oral hygiene practices at home without you saying a word.  (We can also read minds…just kidding.)

So, if most people have heard about flossing, and are reminded of it semi-annually by their dental hygienist, what is preventing them from actually cleaning between their teeth on a regular basis?

Maybe they don’t realize the impact that flossing has on the health of their gums and prevention of early tooth loss.  Maybe it’s difficult for them to manipulate string floss (it’s harder than it looks).  Maybe they are super busy (who isn’t?) and can’t find time to track down some floss and use it between their teeth.  Maybe they ran out of the sample-size floss their hygienist gave them a their last visit.  Maybe it hurts when they floss because their gums are inflamed, so they avoid the pain.  Maybe they are really committed and diligent for the first while, and then life gets in the way and they fall out of the habit.  All of these are totally understandable reasons, and I’ve been there.  (Hygienists are human, too!)

The good news is, your dental hygienist is interested in helping you to keep your mouth and gums healthy, and offers a judgment-free-zone to learn how to properly perform oral hygiene techniques, like flossing, and to help you come up with some ways to integrate flossing into your daily routine.  (Floss in the shower, floss while watching the intro to your show on Netflix, floss while on Facebook or scrolling through Pinterest, floss while at a red light on your commute, etc.)

The other awesome thing your dental hygienist does for you, is giving you a clean slate to work with!  When your dental hygienist cleans your teeth by removing the plaque and calculus (calcified plaque) from your teeth, they are removing the bacteria that are causing the inflammation, pain, and bleeding in your gums.  (Hooray!)  Once these irritations are removed, the gums have a chance to heal, and by properly cleaning your teeth at home (brushing and flossing), you can keep them healthy.  When the gums are healthy, they don’t hurt, they don’t bleed, they are easier to floss, and you have a faster, easier dental hygiene appointments. (Even when your hygienist is gentle, nobody enjoys being in that chair.)

If you’re still reading, check out this video my former classmates and I produced that demonstrates proper flossing technique and briefly explains why flossing is important.  It’s a little cheesy, but definitely educational.  Make sure your sound is on, there’s some great instruction and music.  

After watching this video and practicing at home, if you’re still having difficulty with string floss, try some other interdental cleaners!  Here’s a great article that talks about lots of interdental cleaners and how to use them (scroll about halfway down).  

Remember, the best interdental cleaning tool is the one that you actually use consistently; if string floss just isn’t your thing, talk to your hygienist at your next visit, and we’ll be happy to give you some samples to try.  Happy flossing!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

https://dentistrydonedifferently.com/2015/03/22/what-is-a-periodontal-maintenance/

http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/product-category-information/floss-and-other-interdental-cleaners

https://dentistrydonedifferently.com/2013/10/14/tooth-brushes/

youtube.com/watch

https://dentistrydonedifferently.com/2014/05/19/flossing-do-i-have-to/

Tips for Flossing and Maintaining Your Oral Health While in Braces

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Amanda Orvis, RDH

Tips for Flossing and Maintaining Your Oral Health While in Braces

Flossing may seem like it is almost impossible when you are in braces. It can even seem intimidating. It is a fact that it takes longer to floss your teeth if you have traditional wired braces. Thankfully there are tools that can help take some of the hassle out of flossing around braces. Please read below for some suggestions.

Floss Threaders

These threaders are a great tool to help achieve getting your floss behind your wire and between your teeth. Simply grab a normal piece of floss and one threader. Thread the floss through the loop hole in the threader, the same way you would thread a needle. After you have threaded the floss threader, simply guide the threader behind your orthodontic wire and floss between your teeth. See picture below.

 

Super Floss

Super floss is a pre-threaded flosser. It consists of three parts. Part one is the stiffened needle-like end. Part two is the spongy floss. Part three is the regular floss. This one piece threaded floss is great for maneuvering around those orthodontic wires. The great thing about super floss is that you do not have to thread the floss at all; it is already done for you! The spongy part of the floss is great for those wider spaces between your teeth that you get while your teeth are moving and shifting while you are in braces. The traditional end of the floss is great for those tighter spaces. See picture below.

 

Proxabrushes

These small brushes are great for cleaning between the teeth and behind your orthodontic wires. Proxabrushes help to remove the plaque in those hard to reach areas which are commonly missed. To use these brushes, you simply guide the brush behind the wire and move the brush up and down cleaning any remaining plaque on the teeth after brushing.

 

Waterpik

Waterpiks, also known as water flossers, are great to use around orthodontic brackets and wires. They are easy and effective. You simply point the water flosser between your teeth along the gumline and let the water spray between the teeth. Water flossers help to remove plaque and food debris in those hard to reach areas.

 

*If you would like a demonstration on any of these products please ask your dentist or dental hygienist at your next dental visit.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://oralb.com/en-us/products/super-floss

http://www.gumbrand.com/between-teeth-cleaning/floss-threaders/gum-eez-thru-floss-threaders-840a.html

http://www.gumbrand.com/between-teeth-cleaning/interdental-brushes/gum-go-betweens-proxabrush-cleaners-tight-872rn.html

https://www.waterpik.com/oral-health/how-to-floss/

A little dental humor to keep you smiling

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Lora Cook, RDH

A little dental humor to keep you smiling…

Flossing

Flossing More

AirFloss

You can always air floss!

Loose Canine

For more fun, Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.sugarfixdental.com/

http://www.viralnova.com/funny-dog-faces/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ailbhemalone/things-youll-only-know-if-your-parents-were-dentists?sub=2681816_1827186

http://themetapicture.com/must-visit-the-dentist/

Keeping Your Teeth For a Lifetime

KarenK

Karen Kelley RDH

Keeping Your Teeth For a Lifetime

Our dental practice has more over 50 year olds than under 50.  As aging adults, we need to be aware of certain things that can keep us from retaining our teeth our entire lives.

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Judith Ann Jones, DDS, a spokesman on elder care for the American Dental Association and director of The Center for Clinical Research at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine spoke about 5 things that are especially important to the over 50 crowd.

Tooth Decay:  Contrary to what many people believe, adults keep getting cavities!  I’m always surprised when people are stunned to learn they have a cavity as an adult.  Areas of the teeth that have never had a cavity can decay, but  areas  where we see more problems are where an old filling is leaking and at the base of an older crown.  The best prevention is brushing well each day along the gumline.  An electric toothbrush is very helpful in accomplishing this as well as the use of fluoride.  An over the counter fluoride rinse nightly is great and in our office we have special prescription strength fluoride that is wonderful for cavity prevention as well as help with sensitivity.
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Dry Mouth:  Keeping Your Teeth For a Lifetime We see so many people with this problem.  “Saliva protects our teeth.  The calcium and phosphate present in saliva prevent demineralization of your teeth”, Jones says.  Many drugs cause dry mouth as well as some diseases and as we get older, we are on more medications thus we see this commonly in older adults.  This is a difficult one to deal with for those affected.  The best thing is to drink lots of water, use saliva substitute and try xylitol products.  Also, if you smoke, stop, it just makes your mouth drier.

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Gum Disease:  If your gums are swollen, red, or bleed easily, you have gum disease.  If left untreated, gum disease (gingivitis) will become more serious and will cause deterioration of the bone that holds the teeth, we call this periodontitis.   If this condition continues without treatment, it can cause the loss of the teeth.  The best way to prevent gum disease is to clean your teeth well each day with brushing, flossing, and use of interdental cleaners like soft picks or go betweens. And of course, seeing your friendly dental hygienist as often as recommended.  We can remove the mineralized bacteria from your teeth that you can’t remove with brushing.

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Tooth Crowding:  “As you age, your teeth shift”, according to Lee W. Graber, D.D.S., M.S, Ph.D., Past President of the American Association of Orthodontists. And “that can be problematic, not because you’ll look different, but because it can make your teeth more difficult to clean, leading to more decay.  It’s also of concern because misaligned teeth can lead to teeth erosion and damage to the supporting tissue and bone”, Graber says.   “Add to that the tendency of older adults to have periodontal disease, and you could end up losing your teeth even faster.”   If your teeth have really shifted, and you find you are having a difficult time keeping your teeth clean and food keeps getting caught in certain areas, ask our doctors about orthodontics.  We offer Invisalign to our patients and we’ve had patients in their later years choose to straighten their teeth.  I just finished with my invisalign treatment.  I had braces when I was a teenager but my teeth had shifted and I was experiencing these problems I just mentioned.  I decided to do Invisalign.  It’s easy to do and my teeth are so much straighter.   They are now in the correct alignment and my teeth and gums will be healthier.   If you choose not to do orthodontics, more frequently exams and cleanings may be necessary.

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Oral Cancer:  According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, more than 43,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancers this year, and more than 8,000 will die from it.  “Oral cancer incidence definitely increases as you get older”, Jones says, and “is very often linked to smoking and heavy alcohol use.”   Jones also said, “Only about half of people who develop oral cancer survive the disease.”   If discovered early, there is an 80 percent chance of surviving for five years.  When we do your periodic exams when you come in for your cleaning, you will be checked for oral cancer.  We also offer Velscope, Identafi, or Oral ID technologies to help in finding oral cancer earlier.

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Keep brushing, flossing and smiling!  We want to help you keep your teeth healthy your entire lives!

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Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/28/common-dental-problems-_n_5844434.html

https://aga.grandparents.com/

Dental “Myth Busters”

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Becky Larson, RDH

Dental “Myth Busters”

There are a lot of dental myths out there that are sometimes mistaken for dental truths.  Here are a few facts to help clear up some of the confusion.

Myth #1: You don’t need to brush baby teeth because they will fall out eventually anyway. 

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Absolutely not!  Baby teeth can still get cavities, which can spread to other teeth and cause pain.  Some baby teeth may even fall out too soon and cause problems with bite or improper development of a child’s permanent teeth.  It’s also important to establish good oral hygiene habits early on.  Children’s teeth should be brushed twice daily (just like adult teeth).

Myth #2: Fluoride is poisonous and should be avoided. 

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Wrong!  Each day the enamel layers of our teeth lose minerals (demineralization) due to the acidity of plaque and sugars in the mouth.  The enamel is remineralized from food and water consumption.  Too much demineralization without enough remineralization leads to tooth decay.  Fluoride helps strengthen enamel, thus making it more resistant to acidic demineralization.  Fluoride can sometimes reverse early tooth decay.  According to the American Dental Association, community water fluoridation is the single more effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.  Many dental offices also offer in office fluoride treatments that can help both children and adults.

Myth #3:  You lose one tooth each time you have a child.

Missing Tooth

Now that’s just silly.  Some women think that when they are pregnant the baby leeches a lot of their calcium supply.  That may be, but it doesn’t mean she will lose any teeth.  However, pregnant women are prone to cavities or having other dental problems.  This is due to morning sickness and vomiting, dry mouth, and a desire/craving for more sugary or starchy foods.  Pregnant women in these circumstances should be sure to continue their regular dental check-ups and try to maintain pristine oral home care.

Myth #4:  If your gums are bleeding you should avoid brushing your teeth and flossing.

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I can’t even begin to stress how wrong this one is!  If your gums are bleeding it means there is active inflammation and infection present.  That means you need to improve on oral hygiene by brushing more frequently or more effectively.  Bleeding gums is a sign of periodontal disease.  If caught early (in the gingivitis stage) it can be reversed.  Brushing should be done twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush.  Flossing should be done at least once daily.

Myth #5:  Placing a tablet of aspirin beside an aching tooth can ease the pain.

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Wrong again.  In order to ease the pain caused by a toothache, aspirin must be fully swallowed.  Placing aspirin on gum tissue for long periods of time can actually damage the tissue and possibly cause an abscess.

Myth #6:  You don’t need to see the dentist if there is no visible problem with your teeth.

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Unfortunately not all dental problems will be visible or obvious.  You should continue to visit the dentist for regular check-ups at least twice per year, in conjunction with your cleanings.  Dental radiographs or other instruments can detect cavities or other problems that might not be causing any symptoms yet.  It’s best to catch things early to minimize the treatment needed.

Myth #7:  After a tooth has been treated for decay it will not decay again.

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There are no guarantees in dentistry!  While the dentist will do their best to restore teeth to last for as long as possible, there is no way of knowing when or if a tooth will get recurrent decay.  Proper oral home care can prolong the life of dental restorations.

Don’t always believe what you hear!  If you have questions or concerns about your dental health be sure to ask your dentist, hygienist, or other dental professional.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

 

Sources:

http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/advocating-for-the-public/fluoride-and-fluoridation

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/fluoride-treatment

http://www.livescience.com/22463-gain-a-child-lose-a-tooth-myth-or-reality.html

http://tips4dentalcare.com/2008/06/21/popular-myths-about-dentistry/

The Platypus Orthodontic Flosser

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Lora Cook RDH

“Help! I just got my braces on and it takes me 20 minutes to floss my teeth.”

I have heard this statement before from some of my patients.  Well I am here to tell you that your dental hygienist is here to the rescue.

I am sure that the orthodontist carefully demonstrated how to use floss threaders to thread the floss under the wire.

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Well I am here let you know about another alternative to threaders.  This orthodontic flossing device was invented my a hygienist trying to help her patients with the time consuming and frustrating chore of flossing under braces. It is called the platypus.

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The Platypus orthodontic flosser was co-invented by pediatric dental hygienist Laura Morgan and hygiene product developer Fred Van de Perre.

This device fits easily under arch wire and between brackets. Flossing daily will help gum tissue stay health and help to prevent tooth decay. Best of all it will only take you 2 minutes instead of 20!

How to use the Platypus orthodontic flosser.

*Insert spatula end of the flosser under your wire and press lightly against the teeth.

*Press spatula against your teeth to remove floss slack. Slide floss up between your teeth.

*In difficult to reach area, it is key to maintain pressure against your teeth while flossing.

*The bracket brush cleans around your brace brackets.

Where do I get these?

Amazon or  drugstore.com sells them.

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Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://www.drugstore.com/platypusco-orthodontic-flosser/qxp361704

http://www.drugstore.com/popups/largerphoto/default.asp?pid=361704&catid=183799&size=500&trx=29888&trxp1=361704&trxp2=1

http://drmodjeski.com/oralhygiene.html

http://audrey5942f.blogspot.com/2013/01/platypus-ortho-flosser-for-braces.html

http://www.scottsdental.com/product_images/w/972/346-T106__82881_zoom.jpg

Flossing…Do I have to?

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Wendy Parker RDH
 
Absolutely! In some shape or form, flossing is essential in keeping the mouth and the rest of your body healthy!
As a hygienist, I have heard almost every excuse as to why people don’t floss, and trust me, I understand! From the “I’m too tired at night” to the “I just don’t have time” or the “I just forget to,” my job today is to try and make it a little simpler for you to want to floss and to help you understand why we should floss.
 
As a mother of 4 little ones, I understand that flossing isn’t a priority somedays….getting showered is. But with that, let me just say, flossing really is something that you don’t see the immediate results from, but in 20 years when you have your teeth still and you are smiling at their graduation with all your pearly whites, you will thank me.
 
So, let’s start with answering the basic questions about flossing….WHY should I floss? I brush really well!Brushing is a wonderful thing, and we are encouraged to do it twice a day, for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. What most people don’t realize is that brushing only reaches that tops, outside and inside surfaces of the teeth. But how to get inbetween? There really isn’t a substitute for flossing, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Rinsing with mouthrinse or using an electric toothbrush will definitely help with keeping the mouth cleaner however, it is NOT a substitute for flossing. Plaque and bacteria form on every surface in the mouth, including the tongue and inbetween the teeth, therefore, you have to clean every surface of the teeth, not just the ones you can see. The tongue, saliva, and brushing take care of the plaque on most surfaces of the teeth, but floss truly is the only way to get the sticky plaque off the sides.The idea behind flossing is that as long as you disrupt the bacteria in the mouth once every 24 hours, you prevent it from hardening and becoming tartar. Flossing is MOST effective just before or after brushing at bedtime but really….you can do it any time of the day! Stuck in traffic? Floss. Waiting to pick the kids up? Floss. Going for a walk? Floss. Any time is a great time to floss! When you floss, it prevents Gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissues), bleeding gums, bad breath, and will make easier dental appointments! The more you floss, the easier it becomes and the less your gums will bleed. It’s kind of like riding a bike. The first time you get one, you’re a little shaky but with practice you’ll be jumping off curbs in no time!
A lot of times people don’t floss because their gums bleed. That is because the gum tissue in that area is unhealthy so the body sends more blood to that area to help it heal. When your gums bleed, and the bacteria from the plaque and tartar are present, that bacteria gets into your bloodstream it is carried throughout the body increasing your chances of heart disease, compromising your immune system, and possibly causing an infection in the lining of your heart, which can be deadly! So, the more you floss, the healthier your gums are and the less they bleed!
 
So now that we know why, let’s focus on HOW to properly floss….

  • Starting with about 18 inches of floss, wind most of the floss around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two of floss to work with
  • Holding the floss tautly between your thumbs and index fingers, slide it 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 the floss, as this may cut or bruise delicate gum tissue
  • Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
  • To remove the floss, use the same back-and-forth motion to bring the floss up and away from the teeth
       floss1 floss2 floss3
 
The type of floss you choose is up to you. My personal favorites are Glide floss and Oral-B Satin floss. You may need to try a few different types to find the one that’s right for you. But don’t give up! It does get easier. Flossing looks simple, right? But what if you don’t have the perfect and easiest mouth to floss? Or you hate how the floss cuts off your circulation in your fingers every time? When you walk down the dental isle in any store there are so many aides to assist you, so which one is right for you? Hopefully you have already asked your hygienist this question but if not, here are a few things for you to check out the next time you are perusing the dental isle.
 
Several of my patients enjoy using floss picks. These are a great way to start your day. They don’t cut off your circulation and are totally disposable. These are great to keep a pack in your car or purse when you’re out and about.
And you can find all kinds of cute designs for your kids! Kids don’t usually become proficient at flossing until 10 or 11 years old. It’s never too young to start them on flossing. They’ll thank you later!
 

For those with braces, bridges, or large gaps between their teeth you may want to try Oral-B’s superfloss. It is a piece of floss that has one stiff end, a thicker, yarn-like middle section, and regular floss at the end. It’s hand to floss your thread through those brackets, bridges, permanent retainers, and then use the floss width that fits the area. This is a favorite of mine.
Also for places that have a little bit of a space, braces or bridges, is the interproximal brush. Some are disposable, some are reusable, just check them out and decide which one you would like. But these are great for teens who get something stuck in their teeth at school and don’t want to carry a toothbrush with them. Or for men just before business meetings.
 
And of course, there are the rubber tips toothpicks. You can go back to old school and use a regular wooden toothpick if that’s your preference but these are great. They are small, disposable, and awesome for on the go. They have a flexible rubber tip you can get inbetween tight spaces, permanent retainers, and brackets. Check them out, you may like them.
 
I know that there are several other gadgets out there but these are just a few of my personal favorites. If you see one you like, ask us about it and we’ll do the research for you to see if it’s the best one for you! But no matter what you do, just be sure that you do your best and remember what Dory from Finding Nemo says, “Just keep flossing, just keep flossing, flossing, flossing…..” Or was is swimming?