Benefits of Using Dental Floss
Add flossing to your daily dental routine to clean those stubborn spots your brush won’t reach and you’ll experience a cleaner, healthier smile. Most people either forget about flossing or consider it a low-priority because they’re unaware of the importance or are unsure how to do it correctly. The truth is, flossing helps clean the gaps between your teeth so that you're less likely to get gum infections or cavities from bacteria build-up. And as your overall dental health improves, you’ll start saving money while you avoid large dental bills from expensive procedures.
What is Dental Floss?
Dental floss is a tool you should use daily to remove food and bacteria build-up from in-between your teeth. Floss is commonly made out of plastic or nylon; it is a thin thread that you put between your teeth and pull in order to clean the gaps. As you pull on the thread, food and debris should come out of the gaps.
Types of Dental Floss
You'll have a surprising number of types to choose from when picking out dental floss. You can get most types of floss at your local supermarket or drugstore. Although all use some type of thread or ribbon, there are differences in materials and packaging.
Some floss is made out of dental ribbon rather than out of plastic or nylon string. Ribbon floss is smoother and more comfortable than traditional floss. For example, if your gums ache or bleed when you floss your teeth, you might want to try ribbon floss instead.
There are also automatic flossers that you can try if you have a hard time perfecting your flossing technique or find flossing uncomfortable. Automatic flossers use a nylon filament to floss your teeth for you. When you turn the flosser on and touch it against your teeth, it cleans the gaps between your teeth for you.
Benefits of Using Dental Floss
Brushing alone doesn't clean your entire mouth; it only cleans the surface of your teeth. You need to floss in order to clean out the gaps between your teeth, where bacteria often reside. If you don't floss, you're more likely to have plaque build-up, which can lead to cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and a high body mass index. In addition, bacteria can cause bad breath and having food or debris between your teeth can make them look less clean or white. Thus, flossing can help improve the appearance of your mouth as well as your dental hygiene and overall health.
How Often Should You Floss?
It's more important to take your time and floss correctly than it is to floss often. If you floss several times a day but do it quickly, you'll miss a lot of the bacteria and debris you need to clean out. This defeats the purpose of flossing. It's far better to floss only once a day and do it slowly so that you clean your entire mouth.
Of course, it's still important to floss regularly; if you don't floss at least once a day, you won't get all the health benefits.
Dental Floss for Braces
If you or your child currently wears braces, flossing is even more important. Food and bacteria can easily lodge underneath braces and cause permanent damage to your teeth. However, you have to be careful when flossing so that you don't damage your braces.
Always use waxed flossing products if you have braces. Unwaxed products have less of a slippery surface and are therefore more likely to get caught or tangled in your braces. If enough floss gets tangled, it can pull a brace out of alignment or otherwise break it.
There's a specific technique you should use when flossing your braces. If your children have braces, you may need to help them with it, as it requires a bit of coordination. Start with the teeth at one side of your mouth. Carefully thread the floss underneath the wire and between two teeth, then gently pull up and down. When you have flossed these two teeth, remove the floss from under the brace wire and throw it away. Repeat this procedure on the next two teeth. It may take a long time to floss your teeth using this method, but it’s the best method to use because it reduces the risk of breaking your braces.
Dental Floss Facts
Dental flossing is not a new technique. It was actually invented in 1815 by a New Orleans dentist who advised his patients to use thin thread to clean between their teeth. Johnson and Johnson patented dental floss in 1898; it was made out of silk, as were surgical stitches of the time. Dental floss began to use nylon instead of silk in the 1940s.
Some people falsely believe that you can't floss if you're pregnant, nursing or if you have braces. In reality, there's a technique and material for everybody who wants to floss their teeth. You should talk to your dentist about proper flossing techniques for your situation if you have any concerns.
Today, there are many types of dental floss on the market, and you and your dentist can easily find the floss that best suits you or your family’s needs. If you’re someone who has a hard time flossing, try using an automatic flosser versus conventional floss. Remember, flossing your teeth every day helps improve your general as well as your dental health. It's important to floss regularly and to talk to your dentist about any problems you have with flossing or your teeth and gums.
*This information is for general educational purposes only. The information presented is not a guarantee or representation that the procedures are covered under a Humana Dental or Vision Plan.
*Humana Individual dental and vision plans are insured and or offered by Humana Insurance Company, HumanaDental Insurance Company, Humana Insurance Company of New York, The Dental Concern, Inc., CompBenefits Insurance Company, CompBenefits Company, CompBenefits Dental, Inc., CompBenefits of Alabama, Inc., CompBenefits of Georgia, Inc., CompBenefits Direct, Inc., DentiCare, Inc. (d/b/a CompBenefits) or Texas Dental Plans, Inc.