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Why dentists always talk about flossing

How do you brush your teeth? Most people just push the brush back and forth without much thought. The right way is to clean every surface of the tooth – the front that touches your lips and cheek, the back that touches your tongue, and the biting surface at the top. It’s best to brush in a circular motion all over your teeth and gums to get a thorough clean.

But even with this careful, comprehensive method, there’s one part of your tooth that won’t get clean. It’s the parts of your teeth that touch one another. These are the tight spaces where food sometimes gets stuck, making you itch to pry them out with a toothpick.

These surfaces can’t be reached by a toothbrush, but just like bits of meat and fruit get stuck there, bacteria can hide there too. That’s where flossing comes in. It allows you to reach those tiny spaces and scrape off plaque or food particles, preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Up-and-down not side-to-side

The danger with flossing incorrectly is that you can end up cutting into your soft tissue and do more damage to your gums, so you need to be careful. The biggest mistake people make is to pull their dental floss back-and-forth in a see-saw motion, which makes it easier to harm the gums. Instead, push your floss up-and-down between each tooth. Remember that the floss should ‘hug’ your tooth, so tilt it to reach both the inner surfaces of your tooth.

Many videos online show flossing techniques, but they often use a set of dentures to demonstrate, which can be unhelpful. It’s easy to manoeuvre some string between a jaw that opens 180 degrees, but how do you wrangle your own teeth? You could try using a floss pick. This pronged instrument has floss threaded through it and can be easier and faster for some people.

Before or after brushing

Most people agree that you should floss while you’re brushing, but should it be before or after toothpaste? You could talk to our dentists in Parramatta for tips and demonstrations on the right way to floss without hurting yourself. As a rule, though, you should floss before brushing. It dislodges the dirt, which can then be cleaned and rinsed out as you brush.

It’s a good idea to floss after every meal, and this might be easier if you use floss picks. Another nifty tooth cleaner is the inter dental brush. This is a small stick with bristles and hairs at the end of it. They come in many sizes, are small and discreet, and you can use them even when you don’t have access to your toothbrush. These small brushes go right into the spaces between your teeth and work like a bottle brush, scraping off plaque and food bits. Make it into a habit and keep one in your pocket.

Length of cleaning

A full flossing should take about a minute, while properly brushing your teeth another two minutes. This means your dental hygiene routine should only take about five minutes. Even if you’re tired at the end of the day, five minutes isn’t too gruelling. In the morning, it’s a good way to wake yourself up, especially if you’re using menthol toothpaste.

To learn more about flossing and what you can do to keep your teeth in tip-top shape, call Dental Avenue Parramatta today on 02 8004 0055 and one of our friendly team members will be happy to help you.

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