The ‘F-word’ in any dental office: FLOSS

You go outside to get the mail. In the middle of bills and junk mail is a postcard…from your DENTAL office. It is a reminder for your 6-month dental cleaning! “Oh…my CLEANING is coming up…uh…okay, now where’s that floss that they gave me six months ago? I’d better start flossing now.”

Does THAT sound familiar? Do you feel like you just got caught with your hand in the cookie jar? Do you ever feel like you’re going to be in TROUBLE because you haven’t been flossing like your hygienist/dentist has been telling you? Do you ever think that if you floss three times a day until your appointment that you can fool your hygienist/dentist? Sorry to break the news to you: we can tell whether or not the dental floss has crossed your teeth on a regular basis.

“Well, I brush three-four times a day, isn’t that enough?” patients often ask me. The answer is a resounding, “Sorry, no it’s not.”

Dental plaque is colonies of bacteria that exist naturally in the mouth. The bacteria LOVE sugars and sugary substances. Any food/candy not removed with normal dental home care becomes an ‘ALL-THE-BACTERIA-CAN-EAT-BUFFET!!’ The bacteria consumes the sugar, and its waste is ‘acid’. The ‘acidic bacterial waste’ breaks down the tooth structure, causing ‘cavities’.

Brushing in a circular motion at the gum-line, on the front AND back of the teeth is a GOOD thing, making sure that the dental plaque is removed. But what about in-BETWEEN the teeth? I’m glad you asked!

The F-word, FLOSS, is so important to do! It removes plaque AND food stuck in-between teeth, so that the plaque doesn’t have much on which to consume.

Start with a floss length shoulder width.  Hold your hands in front of you, fingers extended, and touch your thumbs together. Wrap the floss around your middle fingers (that’s why God made the middle fingers; they are not used to ‘point’ at people). This is the good working length to floss. Use your index fingers to glide the floss between the teeth. Make a c-shape around the tooth and slide the floss up and down. Repeat for the tooth next to it. Repeat throughout your entire mouth. Rinse, then brush as usual, two minutes is optimal.

People say that they don’t have time, but you do have time to floss and brush before you go to bed.

Write on your calendar, for 21 days straight, to FLOSS. It takes 21 days to make a habit. Your dental appointments won’t be so STRESSFUL next time, I promise!

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