According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, " floss to clean your teeth "is an important oral hygiene practice. Tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque builds up on teeth and the gum line. Cleanings, brushing your teeth, and flossing (and using a Waterpik or interdental brushes) prevents the build-up of and removes plaque". However, only four out of ten Americans floss their teeth at least once daily. 

What Does Flossing do to Your Teeth?

Flossing helps you achieve fresher health and makes you less susceptible to dental problems by removing plaque hidden between the teeth unreachable by brushing. According to studies, it helps keep the arteries "younger" and healthier by removing the bacteria that cause gum disease and result in artery inflammation.

How and When to Floss

One of the most common and extensively used options is traditional string floss. The American Dental Association recommends the following technique:

  • Around the middle fingers of both hands, wrap 18 to 20 inches of floss. Keep a one to two-inch space between the thumb and index finger while tightly pressing the floss. Direct the thread between the teeth with your thumb.
  • Move the floss between the teeth in a zigzag manner. Make sure it doesn't snap between the teeth by wrapping it around the sides of each tooth.
  • Gently glide the floss up and down against each tooth's surface from below the gum line.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing at least once daily to your oral hygiene regimen.

Depending on your preference, you can decide whether to do it in the morning or the evening. University of Pennsylvania's Penn Dental Medicine professor Denis F. Kinane suggested flossing at night to allow the mouth an "eight-hour, food-free rest." Still, he did not discount the advantages of doing it in the morning. Other individuals floss more than once a day, opting to floss alongside brushing both in the morning and before bed.

Want Your Kid To Floss More Often? Here are 3 Tips

#1 Listen to their needs: Your child may not like the idea of flossing for several reasons. Reaching the spaces between their back molars may be difficult for their immature muscles. Another challenge may be getting the floss in between their teeth. And having a piece of floss tangled up between their gums can be a scary experience. Please ensure you're sensitive to their requirements as you're teaching them how to floss because this can affect how they perceive the process. Look for ways to simplify it if they struggle to floss their back teeth. If floss is the issue, think about switching to a waxed kind that can more easily pass past your child's teeth.

#2 Let your children participate: Studies have revealed that a child's likelihood of remembering what they have learned increases with their level of involvement in the learning process. The same goes for teaching them how to floss. Whether this means letting your kids pick out their floss of choice or trying out the techniques themselves, giving them a level of participation can make flossing a fun endeavor.

#3 Be the example they need: Children frequently learn faster when they have a mentor to follow. Particularly toddlers have a propensity to mimic the behavior of those around them to understand their surroundings better. Nevertheless, you might use this to pique their interest in flossing. Every time you floss, take your kid with you. And if they do indicate a desire to study, permit them to do so. Along with assisting them when they run into problems, spending time with them while you floss together can be enjoyable for them.

How To Use Interdental Brushes To Floss

The interproximal brush is another name for an interdental brush. It is a little brush that often has a handle made of plastic, making it simple to hold onto when flossing. You should use these brushes if you have metal braces.

An interdental brush can be either an I or an L shape. An I-shaped interdental brush is used for the front teeth and can be bent at the desired angle by curving the plastic tip. You can use an I-shaped brush and an extension cap to brush the rear teeth. On the other hand, L-shaped brushes work best when angled at a fixed angle for the back teeth. To use an interdental brush, follow these steps:

  • Lubricate the interdental brush with water, paste, or gel.
  • Begin at the top rear and work your way around, holding it like a pencil (or however you are most comfortable). Slide the brush's tip into the interdental triangle with care. To clean both sides of a tooth, move the brush back and forth along the surface of the tooth two to three times.
  • Rinse the mouth with warm water. Also, wash the brush with warm water to sterilize it.

Oral Irrigator

If string floss and interdental brushes do not suit your preference, you can choose an oral irrigator. An oral irrigator is a home dental care device that uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food between the teeth. It is also helpful in cleaning the gum line and improving gingival health. To use an oral irrigator, follow these steps:

  • Start by adding warm or room temperature water to the reservoir. If you haven't already, affix the tip to the gadget. Certain oral irrigators come with various angles depending on your needs and tastes.
  • Before turning it on, put the tip inside your mouth. First, brush the area above the rear teeth, aiming the end at a 90-degree angle above the gum line.
  • After the back teeth, work your way towards the front. Pay attention to every tooth. Then, start brushing your lower jaw's teeth from back to front.
  • When finished, kindly turn the gadget off before removing it from your device. Expel excess water from your irrigator or water flosser. Remove and thoroughly wash the removable tip. Then, store your unit for later use.

String Vs. Interdental Brush Vs. Oral Irrigator

Choosing between the three options can be difficult because each has advantages and disadvantages.

Traditional string floss easily fits between the smallest of gaps. Even with excessive pressure, the chances of damaging the soft tissues are slim. Similarly, because string floss is typically disposable, it is more sterile. The string option's disadvantage is that people consider it challenging, time-consuming, and inconvenient. Aside from that, traditional string floss is a waste of money. The average flosser will use approximately five miles of string in a lifetime.

On the other hand, Interdental brushes are more useful for people who have difficulty flossing. It is also a better option for bracing patients because it is easier to maneuver than traditional string floss. However, interdental brushes are more expensive than regular string floss. In addition, for some, the bristles of these brushes may cause gum damage. Furthermore, interdental brushes are not entirely sterile after use, which can cause gum irritation.

An oral irrigator is more effective than the other two options. It is twice as effective as traditional string floss in reducing gingival bleeding. According to dental professionals, patients undergoing orthodontic treatment, those who have had dental restorations, and those suffering from chronic gum disease or sensitivity should all use it. An oral irrigator's disadvantages include its high price and the need to replace its tips every three to six months. It can also be messy because if not used correctly, water can spray everywhere. Similarly, food particles can move deeper into soft tissue when pressure is too high, defeating the intended purpose.

In addition to the three options listed above, you can use a flossing stick, an electric flosser, or an air flosser.

  • Flossing sticks. If string is difficult for you to hold and use, sticks are a low-cost alternative. They quickly lay out the appropriate amount of floss and keep it in place for you. In addition, sticks or picks are easy to hold and maneuver, thanks to the thick handles.
  • Electric flosser. An electric flosser has a thin, vibrating, string-like piece attached to its tip that wiggles out particles stuck between the teeth.
  • Sonicare Airfloss. The Sonicare Airfloss, which claims to remove 99 percent more bacteria than a manual toothbrush, is similar to a Waterpik in that it requires water. The Sonicare Airfloss, on the other hand, uses compressed air to pressurize bacteria and food particles.

A Brief History

Levi Spear Parmly, a New Orleans-based dentist, invented dental floss in 1819 by recommending silk thread to remove food debris between teeth. However, it wasn't until 1882 that it was commercially available. Codman and Shurtleft, based in Massachusetts, marketed unwaxed dental floss. By 1898, the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson was producing dental floss made from silk material used for surgical stitches.

In the 1940s, nylon replaced silk due to its durability, consistent texture, and shredding resistance. The same period saw the development of waxed floss, while the 1950s saw the emergence of dental tape.

National Flossing Day

The idea developed by the National Flossing Council served as the cornerstone of National Flossing Day. The main goal of this big celebration, which debuted in 2000, was to promote improved dental health. Don't simply floss on National Flossing Day; do it consistently and with pride.

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