Regular brushing is not enough to keep your teeth and gums healthy. According to the American Dental Association, it is ideal to clean your teeth daily with an interdental cleaner or dental floss.
This healthy habit removes plaque, the sticky material that gets in between teeth after meals. The bacteria carried by plaque feeds on the sugar left in your mouth and this can lead to cavities and teeth damage.
When plaque is left for too long, it turns into tartar – a hardened substance that forms along the gum line. This can lead to even worse problems like gum disease. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. This has to be removed by a dentist through prophylaxis.
Tools for Cleaning Between Teeth
It might be tempting to just pick on your teeth using a random object that’s near you, like a safety pin, cutlery or folded paper. A study by Ipsos reported that most Americans sometimes use unusual items to remove food in their teeth. The top unusual item people use as floss – fingernails.
This bad habit can be really harmful to your teeth and may even puncture your gums. Instead of experimenting with unconventional toothpicks, use dentist-approved tools like string floss, dental picks and water flossers.
If you are not sure of what tool to use, you can always ask your dentist. These interdental cleaners are designed differently and you might need help in figuring out what’s the best one for you. For those who have dental work like bridges and braces, water flossers may be your best option as they can do thorough cleaning without too much effort. Dental pickers are ideal to use for hard-to-reach places like the back molars.
The Right Time to Floss
When is the right time to floss, before or after brushing the teeth?
Some people get confused about this but the truth is, both times are okay. It doesn’t matter much if you are doing it before or after brushing, the important thing is – you are flossing!
Because flossing can take up some time, especially for those who wear braces and bridges, it is important that you find the ideal time for your own schedule. If you are too busy to floss in the morning, then do it before you sleep at night. If you are usually too tired in the evenings, then do your cleaning earlier. Children below 10 should be supervised to ensure they are doing it right.
Flossing should not be painful, unless you are doing it improperly or if you already have gum problems. If you are not used to regular flossing, your gums might feel slightly swollen or even bleed at first. This should go away once you get used to interdental cleaning. However, if pain or swelling persists, you might have a dental or gum issue that needs to be checked.