Patients often ask Dr. Powell, the Hickory Dentist, if they can skip the floss by doing a better job brushing. The importance of brushing our teeth is instilled in us from the time our baby teeth begin to show. Some mothers even use a washcloth to help their babies become used to the idea of brushing before a toothbrush is needed. It is clear brushing twice per day with a soft-bristled brush is certainly one of the primary methods we have to clean our teeth. But, is it enough? Is flossing really necessary as long as a thorough brushing job is part of your daily routine?
- Brushing Is A Powerful Tool!
To find the answer, we first have to look at the art of brushing the number of germs and stuck-on food the brush is likely to remove. Brushing alone is a very useful tool in the removal of plaque, the number one cause of tooth decay and gum disease, from the tooth and gum line areas. This is especially true when the most effective brushing technique of small circles along the gum line and around each tooth for over two minutes is used. However, what do we use to remove the food and plaque that is stuck in between the teeth?
- Do I Need To Buy An Electric Toothbrush?
Manual toothbrushes and electric toothbrushes both work well for cleaning your teeth. While one may have an advantage according to Consumer Reports, the technique is more important. The length of time, angle of the brush head along the gum line, soft bristles and circular pattern are the main ingredients for removing plaque wherever the bristles can fit. Although brush heads with varying lengths of bristles are known to clean better than those with the same even length, most soft brushes should do the job as long as you do not push too hard causing the bristles to turn outward against the tooth and away from the plaque.
- Getting To Where The Plaque Hides
For larger open contacts where the teeth do not touch together, it is possible that a toothbrush may be able to get around the tooth enough to remove all plaque on its own. Most teeth, on the other hand, have too tight of a space for the bristles of a toothbrush much less a toothpick to reach and loosen the food or plaque. In fact, the tighter the contact, the smaller the gap. Therefore, to properly clean your teeth, wax floss is needed in addition to brushing on a daily basis as it only takes two hours for the bacteria to begin to form plaque from the stuck-on food.
- Young Children And Flossers
Children under 9 years of age do not have the dexterity to do a thorough job when flossing. An adult should help them by brushing and flossing their teeth daily to scrape away food and avoid any plaque turning into an issue. If you have a young child learning to floss, you could allow the child to use pre-made flossers are for getting used to the act of removing plaque. However, there is no known substitute as affective as winding the floss around your fingers and scraping each side of the tooth all the way down below the gum line.
- Finishing The Job
Now that we have established flossing is necessary in the battle against plaque, we must also find the best method of flossing to ensure a complete victory. Start by wrapping the ends of the floss around your index fingers and wrap the floss up and down each side of every tooth below the gum line. Be sure to unwrap and reposition the floss around your fingers to allow for a clean piece to work down the side of the next tooth. For tighter spaces, try angling the floss from the side of the contact area and saw back and forth with a light pressure to prevent too much force injuring the gum line.
Brushing and flossing go hand-in-hand literally as you work them into your daily routine to help prevent tooth decay or gum disease. While brushing properly will do a lot of good in this area, the floss alone will finish the job in areas of tight contact where it is easy for plaque and germs to hide. Use the two together each day for your best smile to always be on display, and contact our office to set up your wellness visit today.