Should I really floss every day? I only floss one to two times a week…is that ok? Do I have to floss? These are the various questions about flossing we hear daily. The answer is “Yes, you need to floss!”
Your teeth have 5 surfaces. Three of those surfaces can be cleaned with a toothbrush. A toothbrush bristle cannot clean between your teeth. So, if you are not flossing, you are not cleaning 2 out of the 5 surfaces of your teeth. In other terms, you are only cleaning 60% of your mouth and leaving 40% of it untouched. If you don’t floss, it is similar to showering and not cleaning your right arm; or washing your hands but not your fingers.
A surprise fact: If you were on a deserted island and could take either a toothbrush or floss, dentists would prefer that you take floss. Your tongue and cheeks brush and rub against your teeth and help keep the same areas that a toothbrush reaches clean. However, floss is the only thing that gets between your teeth and cleans those “in between your teeth” areas. Now, we wouldn’t advise only flossing, but this hypothetical situation stresses the importance of flossing.
Here are some other questions that we commonly get regarding flossing:
1) What type of floss should I use? Tape vs. glide? Flavored vs. non-flavored?
Use the type of floss that you prefer. Some patients have tighter teeth and prefer using the glide. Some patients have bigger gaps and prefer using the tape because it is a little bit thicker. As far as flavoring goes, all of the flavors are equal. Use whichever one you like best.
2) Can I use a waterpick instead of floss?
Unfortunately, a waterpick does not replace floss. A waterpick is really good for children with braces or aging adults who have larger spaces between their teeth. The waterpick helps remove big chucks of food or debris between teeth, but it doesn’t remove the plaque that is attached to your teeth. A waterpick can definitely help make your mouth healthier, but it is not a replacement for floss.
3) Can I substitute a mouth rinse instead of flossing?
Even the most vigorous swisher doesn’t produce enough force to remove the plaque from your teeth. A mouthwash can definitely help with bad breath, but it is not a substitute for flossing.
4) Is it ok if my gums bleed when I floss?
If your gums bleed when you floss, it means that you have gingivitis or gum disease. Gum disease is inflammation of your gums due to plaque and bacteria that attach to your teeth. By flossing, you remove the plaque and allow your gums to heal. So, the more you floss, the less likely your gums will bleed.
Effective flossing not only removes food that is stuck between your teeth, it also removes plaque and bacteria that can cause periodontal disease, bad breath (halitosis) and even cavities. There is a saying in the dental field that “You only need to floss the teeth that you want to keep!”
As always, feel free to email or call us with any questions you have. You can always check out our blog for updates on our office or for new insights into the field of dentistry. The web address is www.FordDentalGroup.com/blog.
Lastly, the biggest compliment our office can receive from you is the referral of a friend or family member. If you want to go one step further, you can also give us a great review on google, http://goo.gl/6iBx4. We look forward to seeing you soon.
With your dental health in mind,
Ford Dental Group
Dentist Huntington Beach
16511 Goldenwest St. Huntington Beach, Ca 92647