How To Prevent Tooth Decay with Regular Flossing

Even though you may already be flossing twice daily as recommended by Dr. Natasha Radosavljevic — Dr. Rados, for short; one of Clearwater, FL’s leading dentists — you still may not be doing enough to protect your mouth from tooth decay and gum disease. Although brushing is an essential part of your oral hygiene regimen, flossing is just as important. Brushing your teeth only removes the bacteria and plaque-forming food particles that are easy to reach. 

These bacteria, mostly harmless if kept in check, feed on the plaque, releasing digestive acids that can also eat your tooth enamel.  If this process is allowed to continue, it will eventually result in cavities — holes in your tooth enamel that allow bacteria inside the tooth, making it vulnerable to infection. The most likely spots for cavities are between the teeth and just below the gum line where it is difficult to brush effectively. 

Why Is Flossing So Important?

Flossing can be the difference between a successful check-up with your dentist and the need for fillings or other interventions to stop or reverse tooth decay. Flossing removes the plaque that your toothbrush misses in places like between your teeth or under the gum line. However, it is very important that you are properly flossing for it to be effective. 

As the old adage goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Flossing is that prevention where tooth decay is concerned. Regular flossing can help you to avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially expensive dental procedures that can become unavoidable if your allow tooth decay to continue unchecked between teeth.

How to Floss Correctly

1. Wrap around your middle fingers a length of floss about eighteen inches long. Use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. You should wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the already used floss toward the finger with less floss wrapped around it and access a fresh length.

2. Squeeze the length of floss between two teeth and use a gentle “sawing” (back and forth) motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums to remove food particles, plaque and bacteria..

3. Wrap the floss around the side of one tooth in a “U” shape then gently slide this floss up and down your tooth, making sure to go slightly underneath the gum-line. This should be repeated on the other side of the tooth and then again for each and every tooth, even dental implants or crowns. Although they are artificial, they still need healthy gums to support them.

4. Don’t worry too much if you notice that your gums are bleeding as you floss. A little bleeding is perfectly normal if you aren’t already regularly flossing. This bleeding is due to irritation and inflammation caused by the bacteria and plaque already there. If you continue flossing daily as recommended by your dentist, you should see an improvement in the health of gums in one to two weeks.

Floss Picks Are Less Effective Than You Think

Many people prefer to use the “Y” shaped floss picks that are now widely available at most drug stores.  These pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y” are designed to help people floss more effectively. However, most dentists would prefer their patients use the tried and true method of a length of “free” floss and their hands. Floss picks aren’t able to wrap around a tooth in the “U” shape needed to properly floss around the entire base, however, it’s still better than not flossing at all.

Schedule An Appointment With Your Dentist

It is generally advised that flossing after your brush is the ideal as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss.  If you have any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health, call 727.360.4302 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Rados in Clearwater, FL today.