The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day to maintain proper oral hygiene.
Our first battle as dentists is to convince people to follow these guidelines. Even if you do brush and floss with the right frequency, however, you may not be doing them currently. To enjoy the benefits of healthy teeth and gums, it’s important you have the right oral hygiene techniques down pat.
Many people find flossing tricky. It’s a common obstacle to regular flossing. To help you, we at Dentistry Optimized have compiled common flossing mistakes to avoid, based on our years of experience working with patients:
Flossing too roughly
The whole point of flossing is to remove plaque from the sides of your teeth and make sure bits of food are not stuck between your teeth. This requires some force, but don’t treat your teeth and gums as the enemy, and don’t put pressure on your gums with the floss.
Keep some slack in the floss to allow you to wrap it around each tooth rather than holding it in high tension. If you’re flossing your bottom teeth, pull the floss up away from your gums to bring the plaque out of your mouth. If you’re flossing between your top teeth, pull the floss down to get the plaque out.
Moving too quickly
Flossing is not a race, so the goal is not to finish as soon as possible. The idea is to promote healthy teeth, so don’t rush the job. If you go too quickly, your technique is likely to be sloppy, and you can irritate your gums. Pay attention and think about what you’re doing, and you will keep an effective, consistent pace.
Using too little floss
You should use about 18 inches of floss for each flossing session. If that sounds like a lot, remember that you’re supposed to use a new section of floss between each set of teeth.
If you reuse the same section of floss for more than one set of teeth, you risk spreading any germs or bacteria from an infected area of your mouth to an area that has not been infected yet. The risk isn’t worth the little bit of floss that you’ll save.
Not maintaining a regular routine
If you don’t floss regularly, you are allowing bacteria to build up in your mouth that could lead straight to gingivitis, or gum disease. The best way to fight this is to establish a regular flossing routine — do your flossing at the same time, in the same place every day, for instance. If you don’t have a regular routine, it’s easy to forget to floss altogether.
While flossing will likely never be your favorite activity, taking care of your teeth is its own reward. And remember, flossing is much more comfortable when you do it regularly. As long as you’re consistent, and avoid the mistakes listed above, you’ll be well on your way to good oral health.
If you’re experiencing any problems with your teeth or if it’s just time for your regular cleaning, contact the Dentistry Optimized office to set up an appointment. Feel free to call or use our convenient online scheduler, but don’t put it off any longer!