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Flossing is an essential part of
the tooth-cleaning process because it breaks up and removes plaque from between teeth and at
the gumline, where periodontal disease often begins.
Flossing has many health benefits.
If you find using floss awkward or difficult, ask your dentist, hygienist or
dental assistant about
the variety of dental floss holders or interdental cleaning devices that are
know that without flossing,
of the surfaces of your teeth are
Wind 18" of floss around middle
fingers of each hand. Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers,
leaving a 1"- 2" length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss
between upper teeth.
a 1" - 2" length of floss taut between fingers. Use index
fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.
guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. DO NOT SNAP
FLOSS BETWEEN YOUR TEETH. Contour floss around the side of the tooth.
floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gumline. Floss
each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.
--Illustrations adapted by
and used courtesy of the John O. Butler Company--
Benefits of flossing:
• Decreased risk of gum
• Better breath
• Removes plaque in between teeth
• Polishes tooth surfaces
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|Picking a Dental Floss
It’s amazing how much variety you can find in dental floss. From
regular dental floss or ribbon to dental flossers, it’s easy to find
something that works well for you. All types remove cavity-causing
plaque and food debris from between your teeth. Here are a few of
• Dental Flossers - Often regarded as being easier to
manage than conventional floss, flossers are a popular choice.
There’s no need to wrap any excess thread around your fingers, which
some find uncomfortable.
• Conventional Floss – There’s nothing wrong with
sticking with traditional types of floss. Just tear off a piece at
least 18 inches long and wind it around your index fingers. If you
find traditional thread-like floss is uncomfortable for your gums,
try dental ribbon, its smoother counterpart.
• Floss Threaders – If you have a fixed bridge in your
mouth, it doesn’t mean you get out of flossing. Nifty little floss
threaders allow you to thread (gasp!) the floss between your teeth,
under the bridge work.
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Floss to avoid periodontitis
matters!: People who have both gum disease and a high body mass
index, were more likely to have increased C-reactive protein-a serum in
blood that is a marker for heart disease. Archives
of Internal Medicine 12/03
Don't be discouraged with your first attempts at flossing, you will improve
with time and practice :-) Your gums may bleed and be sore the first few days
that you floss however they will heal and stop bleeding in a couple of days once
the bacteria are removed.
If you don't have good finger dexterity, try a
commercial tooth flosser or an automatic flosser like the one made
The loop method is suited for children or adults with less nimble
hands, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss
and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots.
Place all of the
fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the
floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through
the upper teeth, going below the gumline forming a "C" on the side of
the tooth. Most children cannot floss their own teeth properly until about
the age of 10 so they will need your help and encouragement.
Is it safe to use toothpicks?
In a pinch, toothpicks are effective at removing food between teeth, but for
daily cleaning of plaque between teeth, floss is recommended. Toothpicks come
round and flat, narrow and thick. When you use a toothpick, don't press too hard
as you can break off the end and lodge it in your gums.
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|A good tip is to establish a regular routine
and time for flossing so you don't forget |
|If you're only
brushing, and not
flossing, you're only cleaning 60
percent of your teeth.
|No time to floss? Floss your upper teeth in
the morning, lower teeth in the evening
|Flossing disturbs bacteria and stops it
before it can create plaque and cause gum and bone disease.
Floss once a day for a healthier set of teeth and gums
|Flossing helps to remove plaque from in
between your teeth. Brushing only cleans three fourths of
your teeth's surfaces. That means if you brush and don't
floss it is like not cleaning seven of your teeth!
|Flossing cleans the areas your toothbrush can
not reach-the tooth surfaces between your teeth.
Excuses for Not Flossing
- My hands are too big, or I have no dexterity...power
flossers can solve this problem
- Flossing pushes food down into the
pocket...flossing cleans about 30% of the tooth's surface... its
cleans out food and plaque.
- My gums bleed..........this is a sign you REALLY
need to start flossing because you have an infection in your gums.
- I get my teeth professional cleaned twice a year,
so I don't have to brush or floss...plaque can turn to hard calculus
in less than 2 days...daily cleaning is needed to keep your teeth
- It takes too long............through brushing and
flossing can take less than only 10 minutes.
- Is get in the way of sex life?........gum disease
can pass through saliva so kissing your loved ones can put them at
risk of contracting gum disease.
- My teeth are too tight for the floss....try a
polymer floss that is ADA approved or use the flosser.
- I'm afraid of damaging my gums when I floss...the
technique is so important....remember to slide the floss between the
gum and teeth with light pressure.
- I forgot my floss..........no floss? Try
chewing on a stick? Use of Miswak chewing sticks have been
found to help with preventing gum disease.
Dentistry Today pg 42 February 2003
Flossing Needed to Fight Gum Disease
There’s new evidence that brushing teeth
alone may not be enough to fight gum disease. In a study
released in the American Journal of Periodontology
(August 2006) researchers compared the effects of twice
daily flossing and tooth brushing vs. brushing alone in
51 sets of twins, aged 12 to 21. One twin manually
brushed the teeth and tongue twice a day for two weeks;
the other twin was given the same instructions in
addition to using dental floss twice a day. Before and
after the study, researchers examined both groups for
evidence of gum bleeding and bad breath. The results
showed the group that flossed had 38% fewer bleeding gum
sites than before the intervention and overall gum
bleeding improved by an average of 42%. In the
brushing-only group the number of bleeding gum sites
increased by nearly 4%.
Flossing Still RECOMMENDED for Oral Health Care
The American Dental Association (ADA) is aware of the
recent preliminary injunction against a mouthwash
manufacturer's advertising claim that its mouth rinse is
as effective as flossing.
The ADA continues to recommend flossing as part of a
good oral hygiene regimen. The American Dental
Association (ADA) recommends to brush twice a day and
clean between the teeth with floss or interdental
cleaners once each
day to remove plaque from all tooth surfaces. Plaque
is responsible for both tooth decay and gum disease.
Regarding the studies, the authors concluded that in
patients with mild to moderate gingivitis (early
periodontal (gum) disease), rinsing twice a day with the
antiseptic mouth rinse was as effective as flossing for
reducing plaque and gingivitis between the teeth. The
studies did not examine whether the mouth
rinse had the same effect
as floss on reducing tooth decay or periodontitis
(advanced periodontal (gum) disease). Flossing and
interdental cleaners also help remove food debris caught
between teeth that may not be rinsed away.
The ADA recommends the following for good oral hygiene:
Brush your teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted
fluoride toothpaste. Clean between teeth daily with
floss or an interdental cleaner. Decay– causing bacteria
still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles
can't reach. Flossing removes plaque and food
particles from between the teeth and under the gum line.
Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings
and oral exams. Talk to your dentist about what types of
oral care products will be most effective for you.
Replace your toothbrush every three or four months , or
sooner if the bristles become frayed. A worn toothbrush
will not do a good job of
cleaning your teeth. Children's toothbrushes often need
replacing more frequently than adults because they can
wear out sooner.
*Sharma, et. al., Am. J. Dent.
Bauroth, et.al., J. Am. Dent. Assn. 134:359-365, Mar
A good oral hygiene regimen includes daily flossing.
ADA has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson Oral Health
Products for a new advertising campaign promoting the benefits of
"Flossing Matters: Daily Flossing is Essential to Your Oral Health"
is the theme on flossing and its role in preventive oral health."Johnson
& Johnson approached us with the idea to start a campaign to dentists
and the public about flossing, why that's important to patients and
develop tools to help patients learn,All materials related to the
campaign will emphasize the consistency of the ADA's recommendations on
Johnson & Johnson market research shows that 87 percent of patients
floss infrequently or not at all. It's an alarming number that
tells us more patients need to floss on a regular basis. Partnering with
the American Dental
Association is the best way to raise awareness of the need to floss, as
patients will seek oral hygiene advice from their dentist first."
By Karen Fox ADA
A new US survey has outlined the different oral
hygiene habits of men and women. Conducted for the American Dental
Association's (ADA) 2003. 1,014 nationally representative adults were
interviewed for the survey. It was found that women take better care
of their teeth than men. However, overall American adults recorded a
slight increase among those brushing twice a day or after each meal to
78 percent in 2003, compared with 1997's 75.4 percent. The most dramatic
jump in brushing frequency occurred in the number of respondents saying
they brushed after every meal, reaching 24.8 percent in 2003 compared
with 11.5 percent in the 1997 survey. The daily use of dental floss or
an interdental cleaner rose slightly to 50.5 percent in 2003 compared
with 1997's 48.2 percent. Being thorough in your daily oral hygiene
lays the groundwork for a healthy smile. A daily routine of brushing
and flossing, in addition to regular dental checkups, can be enough in
most cases to help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. 6/04
~We have NO financial interest in this product.
Explore health benefits from flossing:
Floss or Die
February 06, 2008