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How Many Flunk Flossing 101?

Winterset Dental Care

No, I’m not going to lecture you on the merits flossing. But if you are flossing, I want you to get the most benefit from the activity. There are three common “errors” that I detect from patients who routinely use dental floss:

  1. They are afraid to go under the gum line.
  2. They do not clean underneath their dental bridgework (several connected crowns)
  3. They snap floss through the contact, where two teeth touch each other, and immediately snap it back out. These folks are particularly fulfilled when a piece of last night’s dinner hits the mirror (just kidding).

If you ever need a topic for a Science report, look no further than the types of bacteria that adhere to structures in a mouth. While some over-the-counter mouthwashes slow down their activity, the very best method for removing these trouble makers is “manual action” in both big and itsy-bitsy spaces. I’ll focus on the latter.

1. Gum tissue is not attached at the exact spot where it appears on to touch a tooth. The first 2-3 mm form a “turtleneck collar” around a tooth, and it is your job to clean under “collar”. In general terms, this collar is called a “sulcus” for us dental care providers. The area is warm and moist, so microorganisms multiply quickly, when undisturbed.

2. If you’ve lost a tooth and had it replaced with a length of 3 or more teeth, connected to bridge the gap, the space near the gum line of the false tooth is prone to collecting seeds, certain vegetables, and stringy food. You often can’t feel it. Use the Sunstar/Butler brand of a floss threader or Proxabrush to clean under this space, daily, or leftovers will attract bacteria and create mouth odor.

3. Flossing is not a race. If it takes less than 30 seconds, you aren’t performing at your best. While flossing the contact does reduce the risk of decay in that one spot, it misses all the bacteria that need to be removed between the teeth, and closer to the gum line. Bristles just aren’t narrow enough to reach where floss excels.

If there’s a spot that you can’t seem to reach, let us know and we’ll gladly show you how.

P.S. Please don’t use a toothpick instead of floss or floss threaders.

Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.

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