Keeping the mouth clean so as to be free of dental diseases or any other problems is the fundamental concept of oral hygiene and why dental professionals keep talking about it.
Oral health is often considered a major contributor to the overall general health of a person. But this is often overlooked, and dental services are availed only when there is a problem – like a loose tooth, cavity, bleeding gums, mouth sores etc. Oral health reflects the overall health of a person.
At a glance, good oral hygiene would mean a clean mouth free from debris and smells healthy. Besides this, gums look healthy and do not have any inflammation and do not bleed. If there are problems of bleeding gums or persistent bad breath – these need to be checked by a dentist as they indicate dental problems.
One of the basic steps towards maintaining oral hygiene is proper brushing and flossing. Practising these habits daily acts as a preventive step against most of the oral/dental problems. Not to mention it is an inexpensive way of achieving good oral hygiene. That being said, it is also important that consultations with dentist are also done at least twice in a year.
When it comes to maintaining oral hygiene, flossing holds a very special place. Flossing can be done by all – even children can do flossing. Some parents have even started flossing in their children when they primary teeth. It is good to get them started young, while they would need assistance from parents when they start, later on with practice they can do it on their own.
Is there a need for flossing?
When one speaks about daily routines that promote oral hygiene, what one can incorporate is flossing. Brushing helps to clean the outer surface of the teeth, but flossing helps to keep the spaces between teeth clean. This helps to clear the food debris that can get stuck between teeth. If not cleaned, this can lead to plaque formation. It is important to do this once a day at least along with brushing as it helps to clean teeth in areas where toothbrushes can’t reach.
One of the common dental problems, arise when cleaning does not get rid of food particles in the mouth. They get stuck between teeth. Bacteria in the mouth, acts on these food particles and create plaque in the mouth. When this does not get removed, it forms into a calcified tartar.
Stops gum diseases
Flossing does not perform just the simple task of cleaning plaque. When plaque starts forming – they affect the gum lining of the mouth as well. The bacteria irritates the gum lining of the teeth. This can result in inflammation of the gum tissue and bleeding can also happen. This paves the way for gum diseases also. If plaque is removed at the earliest, you are free of gum diseases.
Preventing cavity formation
Studies show that cavities are mostly found between teeth. One of the major reason could be the lack of cleaning in the space between the teeth. Food particles, especially the sugary food debris stick on to the space between the teeth. The bacteria acts on these sugar and releases acids. These acids will work on the teeth and slowly result in cavity formation. Flossing helps to clean these food that are stuck between teeth and prevent cavity formation to some extent.
Boosting overall health
If flossing is not adopted in our dental cleaning regime, it can lead to other periodontal diseases. Disease causing bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel up to the heart and other major organs like lungs and cause diseases there.
Techniques and Types of flossing:
Effective cleaning using flossing happens only when it is done in the right way. Sliding a piece of floss between teeth and slowly sliding it up and down the space will help to clean away the debris that is stuck there. Care must be taken not to force or snap the floss as this can harm the gum line. Remember to throw away the floss after use and use a new clean floss each time.
There are different types of dental floss once can choose from. You can choose from the different type of floss based on your need. There are waxed and unwaxed varieties – both are effective, waxed floss makes it a bit easier to slide between teeth and as they are smooth they do not snap off easily. There are ribbon floss or fine floss- the difference in this type of floss is based on the area covered. The ribbon floss is wider than the fine floss and covers a wider area than the fine floss.
Besides this type, there are disposable floss as well. They are small in size and easy to carry while travelling. They are also effective in cleaning – they come in pre-threaded floss holders. Some prefer to use standard floss while travelling. There are also electric floss available. Besides this, there are also flavoured floss – mint flavoured or chocolate flavoured -there are wide variety to choose from depending on one’s preference.
Taking care while flossing:
Generally flossing is done at night before sleeping. Flossing at least once a day is important. You can choose whichever time is convenient to you.
When you start flossing, you might notice bleeding. This will cease in a week or so – so there is no need to worry about. But do consult with the dentist, if it persists.
It is not enough that you floss only the front teeth, care must be taken to floss all the teeth – even behind back teeth. It might be difficult at first, but continue doing it and it will become easy.
If not sure on how to go about, do consult with your dentist on how to do it – check which flossing option suit you better – for good results.