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How often should you floss your teeth?

We know that when we ask our patients how often they floss their teeth, it’s one that they’re dreading. Unfortunately, we’re not going to stop asking the question because flossing is just that important to your dental and oral health. It’s fiddly and inconvenient at first, but once you get the hang of flossing regularly and it becomes part of your morning routine, you’ll have the best defence against gum disease. When it comes down to your dental health, most of the hard work is down to you to protect your teeth and gums from bacteria. In combination with regular check-ups with your dentist, your oral care regime will keep your smile as healthy and whole for as long as possible. We just have to keep on top of cleaning and that includes flossing.

You should floss your teeth everyday

In answer to the question of how often you should be cleaning in between your teeth, the answer is pretty straight-forward. Everyday. It’s the best practice for when it comes down to removing all food particles and plaque build-ups that gather on your teeth during the day and night. Brushing your teeth does remove most of the plaque and debris from the surfaces that you can easily reach with your toothbrush. Yet it’s the pesky spots between your teeth where the bristles don’t reach which are the main cause for concern. This is where plaque and tartar can develop. Flossing will remove the plaque and any bits that are stuck in the tight gaps. This stops bacteria from developing.

Why do I need to floss?

You need to floss if you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Bacteria in plaque causes irritation in the gums, leading to gum disease if not treated. Bacteria also creates an acidic environment which can lead to dental cavities if not cleaned away. When it comes to dental decay and gum disease, prevention is much better than cure so it’s essential to keep on top of cleaning your teeth. 

Appointments with your hygienist on top of flossing regularly will ensure that your teeth are as clean and protected from bacteria as possible. Gum disease is treatable in its early stages so if you do notice that your gums are inflamed, even bleeding when you brush and floss, acting now and removing the plaque agitating your gums will get the condition to settle. If gum disease is left untreated, however, it develops from gingivitis to periodontitis. This more aggressive form of gum disease can be controlled but not cured. That’s why we so strongly urge our patients to floss and clean effectively at home. 

How to floss your teeth

  1. Tear off a length of dental floss that’s around 18 inches long.

  2. Wind the dental floss around each middle finger, leaving around an inch or two of floss between your fingers.

  3. Starting at the back molars, work your way up and down the gaps between your teeth gently. Use a back-and-forth motion to clean the teeth.

  4. Curve the floss around the shape of the tooth and make sure you go down under the gumline.

  5. Use clean parts of the floss as you move from tooth to tooth, using all the floss that you’ve wound around your fingers.

Using interdental brushes

There are different tools you can use to clean between your teeth. Interdental brushes are just as effective and a good choice for really getting into those stubborn, hard-to-reach spots. Just as you do with dental floss, you insert the thin brush between your teeth, using a back-and-forth motion to scrub gently. Clean below the gum line to reach areas that your normal toothbrush may miss and where plaque is more likely to irritate your gums. 

There are other alternatives to floss and brushes if you’re finding that the gaps between your teeth are too narrow to reach. Water flossers can help to blast out the gaps but they aren’t as effective as floss. If you’re having problems with cleaning tricky spots, speak with your dentist for some advice. If the problem is down to teeth overlapping and overcrowding, you may want to consider teeth straightening treatment to make it easier to clean your teeth.

Does mouthwash make a difference?

Mouthwash adds an extra layer of defence against bacteria so is recommended as part of your cleaning routine. It’s best to rinse with mouthwash after you floss and brush to eliminate any bacteria that is hanging around in your mouth. 

When is the best time to floss?

Naturally, it makes sense to floss when you’re brushing your teeth. Either in the morning or evening - whichever suits. We’d recommend that you floss first as it can help dislodge the food debris and plaque ready for when you brush next. 

Is it normal for gums to bleed while flossing?

If you haven’t flossed for some time and are just getting back into the habit, you’ll likely notice your gums starting to bed while you floss. This can be a sign that you have developed gum disease so it’s definitely a good idea to arrange a trip to the dentist to make sure that your gums are perfectly healthy. Your dentist may tell you that the bleeding is normal and a sign that your gums aren’t used to the cleaning. The bleeding may continue a few times when you floss but should subside as your gums become healthier and the inflammation goes down as you remove the plaque. 

If you’re still noticing that your gums are bleeding after a few days, we’ll need to get a better look. Always speak to your dentist if you notice any changes in your gum sensitivity. The sooner we can act with gum disease, the quicker we can treat it and protect your teeth from any complications.

Working together with your dentist and hygienist

At De-ientes Dental, we always work with our patients to help them achieve the best cleaning practice at home. Our dental team is on hand with tools and techniques you can use in front of the bathroom mirror. If you want some help and advice on the best flossing and interdental cleaning practices, speak to your dentist or hygienist the next time you visit or book an appointment now. 

In summary, you should floss just as regularly as you’re brushing your teeth. Don’t worry if your gums bleed a little if you’re getting back into regular interdental cleaning - it’s natural and something we expect to see. If the bleeding doesn’t settle down on its own, get in touch with your dentist.


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