Like many patients, chances are you’ve been sitting in your hygienist’s chair, every six months or so, admitting that you don’t floss regularly. Flossing is an instrumental component in keeping your mouth healthy – free from disease and cavities. Because there is no instant gratification from flossing like there is from brushing, it’s often a neglected step in the process. One of the most common flossing mistakes is to think that brushing is more important, or that brushing alone is enough. Not only is flossing important, but it gives you the perfect opportunity to make sure your mouth is in good health as well. It is an excellent strategy (and mindset) to practice between dental visits.
Technique is important – especially when it comes to flossing
It is important to be sure and floss correctly, so that any signs of disease are not misinterpreted. A few mistakes to avoid would be not to saw your floss back and forth, this doesn’t allow it to get the plaque along the gum line. You also should not snap the floss into the gum line, as it can hurt the attachment between teeth.
If you aren’t flossing correctly, bleeding may occur and could be misinterpreted for gum disease. The floss should slide along the side of one tooth, down to the gum line, and curve up like the letter C. This will help clean not only between the teeth, but stimulate the gums between them.
If you have ever wondered how your dentist could tell you haven’t been flossing regularly, there are some tell-tale signs. Flossing the night before your appointment won’t hide them either. Flossing for the first time in a while will leave cuts or abrasions signaling to your dentist you are not a regular flosser. Other signs to your dentist include cavities in between your teeth, as well as pink, swollen gums.
So how can we use this to help us make sure we’re taking adequate care of our entire mouth?
Flossing gives you a glimpse into your entire mouth
Flossing gets between every tooth throughout your mouth, giving you the chance to examine your teeth and your gums reaction to being flossed and brushed. Soreness, swelling, and bleeding may be signs that you have plaque buildup. Plaque buildup can cause cavities or gingivitis. Noticing these slight changes early on can save you some discomfort in the future.
Be sure to floss nightly, and make sure you are using a toothbrush that is no older than 3 months. Soft bristle toothbrush is best, and it is gentle on your gums. A mouth wash can aid in ridding your mouth of the bacteria. If you haven’t been a fan of mouthwash in the past, they now have mouthwashes without alcohol.
Flossing can also help you screen for oral cancer
Typically your dentist will check at your regular cleanings but as with most cancers, early detection is key. Oral cancer is very much a curable cancer when caught in the early stages. It tends to appear as sores that will not heal, a lump, pain, or numbness. These may appear anywhere on the lips, gums, tongue, and cheek lining. Knowing what to look for will greatly increase your chances that potentially cancerous sores can be caught early and successfully treated.
Flossing is the perfect time to check your mouth for oral health problems. It gives you the chance to see all along your gums, cheeks, teeth, and tongue, so you have an opportunity to notice any negative changes. If you have not been a regular flosser in the past and start now, you will notice many positive changes in your mouth and so will your dental hygienist when you come in for your regular dental checkups.
Speaking of checkups… are you up to date with yours? Give us a call to arrange your next dental visit and receive a thorough cleaning, exam and cancer screening.