Facts about flossing

Did you know almost half the surface area of your teeth lies between them? Which is why flossing should be a non-negotiable part of your daily dental routine.

Yet, when it comes to flossing, too many Australians fail to undertake this basic task for a variety of reasons and in doing so risk gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.

Here’s an insight into the importance of flossing and some serious myths that need to be dispelled.

The importance of flossing

When asked why people don’t engage in daily flossing, a host of myths abound. For some it’s just an inconvenience, for others it’s an optional dental hygiene extra. But the truth is flossing should be an integral part of your dental routine.

Flossing allows you to access the areas between the teeth where food and plaque tend to build up and lead to decay.

Flossing myths

1) I only need to floss when I have food stuck between my teeth

Flossing is indeed a great way to dislodge food remnants from between your teeth, but shouldn’t just be utilised when that food debris is obvious.

Daily flossing helps remove food, bacteria and plaque that you cannot see and helps reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.

2) Flossing is painful

With the right technique, flossing shouldn’t hurt at all, but the art is in ensuring the process is gentle. Your dentist is the perfect person to consult about correct flossing technique, but to assist, we’ve also provided a quick guide below.

Meanwhile, people with gum disease may initially find flossing uncomfortable, but that gets better with time.

3) Flossing is time-consuming

Flossing requires just a couple of minutes commitment every day, which isn’t not much when you consider the benefits. By establishing a daily flossing routine you set yourself up for a lifetime of better dental health.

4) I should stop flossing if my gums bleed

If your gums bleed when you floss, it’s not a reason to discontinue, but could be a sign you need to visit a dentist.

Gums that are inflamed and bleed regularly when you floss are a sign of gum disease, and the sooner that’s identified, the better.

5) I shouldn’t floss if I have receding gums

Receding gums are not a reason to avoid flossing, indeed it may benefit them if you do. Flossing helps remove the debris and plaque that exacerbates receding gums, but it’s important not to be overzealous.

Floss gently around areas where gums are receding and consult your dentist about the best technique.

6) Children don’t need to floss

As flossing is part of a healthy dental routine, children should be introduced to flossing as soon as they can tolerate it, and definitely by the age of eight when adult teeth are in place.

7) I can’t floss because I have braces

Even those with braces can and should floss. It just takes a little finesse.

In fact, flossing is even more important for those undergoing orthodontic treatment as braces tend to mean there is more food residue in the mouth.

Your orthodontist will guide you through the right flossing technique to use when you have braces.

8) My teeth are too close together to floss

Yes, flossing can be a bit more challenging if your teeth are crowded, but again that’s no excuse not to floss.

Try using a seesaw motion to access the tight spaces and look for flosses with a waxy coating.

How to floss effectively

The Australian Dental Association offers the following tips when it comes to flossing:

Tip 1. Wind approximately 45 cm of floss around your middle fingers and grip it tightly between your thumbs and index fingers.

Tip 2. Keeping the thumb and forefingers close together, gently guide the floss between the teeth, taking care not to cut or damage your gums with abrupt movement.

Tip 3. You should use a gentle up-and-down motion that goes down one side of the tooth, just under the little collar of gum and then back up the other side (think of it as an on-the-side “c”)​

About Brite Dental

Brite Dental is a community-focused dental practice, committed to ensuring you and your family receive the highest quality of care in a warm and professional environment.

Offering a full range of dental services ranging, from children’s dentistry through to high-end cosmetic dentistry, we are conveniently located in central Panania.

You can learn more about our dental services, or contact us to book your next appointment.