Many cavities and periodontal disease begin between the teeth. While brushing is important, toothbrush bristles just can’t reach between the teeth. However, in order to keep gums and teeth healthy, the plaque between teeth must be removed at least once a day. That’s why Dr. Victor recommends integrating flossing into your daily oral hygiene routine.
Not only does flossing help reduce bacteria, food, and plaque build up around teeth, but it also does so below the gingival sulcus, between the gums and the teeth. It is the buildup of bacteria, plaque, and tartar that causes an irritation to the gum tissue and leads to gingivitis, which is the inflammation and bleeding of the gum tissue. Over time, the human body will try to pull way from these irritants, which can lead to periodontitis, or the attachment loss of gum tissue and even bone.
In order to floss, wind about 18 inches around the middle fingers of each hand, leaving about 5 inches between your hands. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers and leave about one inch in between to work with. Gently guide the floss down between the teeth, using a side-to-side motion. Pull the floss tightly into a C-shape around the side of the tooth and slide it under the gum line. Clean the surface of the tooth by using an up-and-down motion, not side-to-side, until the surface is clean. Pull the floss around the next tooth and repeat the process. Gradually work your way around your entire mouth, cleaning both sides of every tooth.
Dr. Victor also recommends flossing behind your back teeth as it is often hard for patients to use a tooth brush to clean in this area. For children and other patients with poor coordination, Dr. Victor recommends the use of floss picks. These are not as good as regular floss, but do help remove debris, and help foster the habit of flossing. For patients with braces, Dr. Victor recommends the use of the Platypus Ortho Flosser, which easily goes between the wire brace and the teeth.