Health Topics

Healthy Living

July 2012
Flossing Is Good For You
Dr Rashmi R Acharya
Dental flossing is a very important part of good dental hygiene and is essential to prevent dental diseases. Unfortunately, many of us don’t realise its importance. Toothbrushes can’t reach the difficult areas of the teeth or the inter-dental spaces. So, using dental floss at least once a day can provide effective check against dental plaque formation. Regular flossing can reduce cavities, gum disease and bad breath as well.

What’s The Right Age To Start Flossing?
It must begin with baby teeth itself. So get acting on your toddler’s teeth. Once a child’s teeth start to fit closely together, usually between the ages of two and six, get your child in the habit of flossing daily. By the age of 10, children usually develop the ability to floss on their own.

Flossing Tips For Children
  • Try tying the floss into small circles on either end of the strand so that the child’s fingers can easily fit in. This helps the child to get a grip on the floss in the early stages before learning how to hold it on his/her own.
  • There on, let the child loosely wrap most of it around each middle finger, leaving an inch of floss between. Gently slide it down between the teeth with thumb and index fingers holding the floss taut. Be careful not to snap it down on the gums
  • Curve the floss around each tooth in “C” shape and gently move it up and down the sides of each tooth, including under the gum line. It is quite common for the gum to bleed at first, but gradually with regular flossing, the bleeding stops as the gums become healthier
Flossing Tips For Adults
  • Adults should use enough floss - about 18 inches long. Wrap most of the floss around either the middle finger or the index finger of one hand, and a small amount onto the middle or index finger of the other hand.
  • Slide between teeth in zigzag motion and be careful not to let the floss snap or pop between the teeth.
  • Form a “C” as you wrap around the tooth, then carefully pull the floss upward from the gum line to the top of the tooth. Floss both the sides properly and also the backside of each tooth.
Types Of Dental Floss
  • Floss can be waxed or un-waxed.
  • There is a range of flavoured floss, and ecofloss made up of natural materials are also available.
  • Available also are disposable flossers or floss in premeasured strands attached to handles that make flossing easier.
  • Super-floss can be used in large gaps between the teeth.
  • Where space between the teeth is less or tight, waxed floss is easier to slide.
  • In case of braces or bridges, spongy floss is recommended.
Situations When You May Avoid Flossing
  • Restorations in contact areas, tight contacts, and crowded teeth
  • Painful mouth and gums
  • Bleeding gums where cause is unknown
No Overdoing It!
Limit flossing to once a day -- not more, not less. It takes 24 hours for bacteria to settle in between your teeth and begin forming plaque; so once a day is ideal. Excessive flossing can irritate, and eventually damage teeth and gums.

It is important to teach your children the importance of regular brushing and flossing. Practising good oral hygiene contributes to your health in other ways too. A smile is a terrible thing to waste. So be good to your teeth and gum.
Dr Rashmi R Acharya is Consultant Aesthetic & Endodontics,Apollo Hospitals, Bhubaneswar.
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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