Tooth brushing only cleans around 75% of the tooth surface. The other 25% is the surface between the teeth where the toothbrush bristles can’t reach. If you leave this part of the tooth uncleaned it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria feeding off the food particles left behind. With time, this can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, chronic inflammation, and bad breath.
Most people use the term floss to describe cleaning between their teeth but floss is just one way of getting those hard-to-reach areas clean. Where the spaces between your teeth are quite tight, floss will be the only option but where the spaces are bigger (often towards the back of the mouth), alternative options for cleaning become available.Dental floss is available in either waxed or unwaxed versions. Most people find the waxed version easier to use because it glides between the teeth more easily and is less likely to shred or leave loose threads behind.
ike all cleaning aids, using the right technique is important to ensure your efforts aren’t wasted. Different version of floss are available for cleaning implants and bridges. Your dental professional will show you how to use these. For the most effective flossing technique, follow these simple steps:
If you find access difficult with floss, you could try using a ‘flossette’ which holds a small piece of floss in a plastic fork. There are also various ‘floss threaders’ available that help by feeding the floss through the gap avoiding the need for it to be passed through the tight contact point. Ask your dental professional to show you how to use these.
Other interdental aids such as interdental brushes, dental sticks and water flossers provide good alternatives to flossing where the space is wide enough for access. Which ever aid you choose to use, it should fill the space without being forced.
It’s important to note that you won’t always see debris being dislodged when you clean between your teeth because the bacteria isn’t visible to the naked eye. The idea is that you dislodge the bacteria before it’s had time to develop into thicker, more visible plaque. If you can see it, it’s been there too long.
Like all new skills, flossing can take time to get used to but it’s worth persevering. Once you’ve mastered the technique it will be a quick and easy addition to your daily oral hygiene routine and you will reap the benefits for many years to come.