Alla Wheeler, RDH, MPA, associate professor of the Dental Hygiene Program at the New York University School of Dentistry, says that since the results of flossing are not immediate, most people do not think that the technique actually works.
In reality, this is the best technique, as it does approximately 40% of the work required to remove plaque from the teeth. Plaque in the teeth generates an acid that gradually eats away tooth enamel and causes cavities. It also irritates the gums and results in gum disease. “Flossing is helpful to remove at least two surfaces out of the five in the teeth," says Wheeler. This is the only technique that can get into the space between the teeth and remove the plaque.
Flossing can also prevent aging to a certain extent. Gum disease usually robs you of your youthful smile by destroying the gums and teeth. This condition also affects the bones that support the teeth and the lower third of the face. People who floss regularly retain the height of the bone and they look better with age.
Floss is made of nylon or Teflon, and both of them are equally effective. People who have wide gaps between the teeth and those with gum recession in which the gum tissue is lost revealing the root of the tooth get maximum benefits by using flat, wide dental tape. People with closely spaced teeth may benefit from using thin floss. Those who have bridges and braces should be more careful while flossing and ensure that the floss reaches the underside of the restorations, wires, and between the teeth. The floss threader, which looks like a plastic sewing needle, can also be used.
Tips for neat flossing
Edmond Hewlett, DDS, associate professor of restorative dentistry at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry, suggests the following tips for a successful flossing and healthy teeth:
- Use the floss perfectly – Slide the floss between the teeth and wrap it around the tooth in the shape of ‘C’. Further, polish the tooth with an upward and downward motion.
- Don’t worry about bleeding, initially – Bleeding results from inflammation of the gums caused by the accumulation of plaques which need to be removed as soon as possible. This is normal during the initial stages and if it continues it could be a sign of periodontal disease.
- Get a floss holder – Two-pronged floss holder will help to clean between teeth if you are not very comfortable with the use of thread. One can also use soft wooden plaque remover to clear the plaque build up.