Preventive dentistry is nascent in India and hence most dental treatments are invasive both on the subject as well as the subject’s pocket!

Well in the past, my notes have always talked about habits which provide fair deal of protection from invasive dentistry and contribute fair deal in terms of overall wellbeing.

This time it’s going to be Flossing. Well flossing is another great habit that goes a long way in overall protection of teeth, gums, and over all dental and general hygiene. For some reason this still falls under the radar for most Indians!

Flossing is actually a great way to avoid frequent scaling & cleaning of teeth and trust me it’s neither time nor price intensive. All it needs is a little attention.

Well technically speaking, Dental Floss is a cord of thin filaments used to remove food and dental plaque from in between teeth, specifically areas which are inaccessible through tooth brush.

Does one really need flossing even when he is brushing twice a day?

Well the upfront answer is yes, tooth brush’s bristles can’t adequately clean between the teeth. As a result cavities start forming in them. Floss is made specifically for this reason. Floss removes tartar from tight spaces between the teeth without hurting or abrading the gums. Abrasions could otherwise happen in case one were to force toothbrush too hard in those extremely narrow areas.

Toothbrush also cannot clean under the gumline effectively. (Gumline is the line which separates gum from the exposed part of the tooth). Floss does that very effectively.

Well tartar is bad but what if don’t remove it

Tartar buildup can lead to Gingivitis (Gingivitis is a condition where subject has inflamed, reddish, swollen, and bleeding gums). If left unchecked, tartar can even spread deeper below the gum causing Periodontitis, an even more serious condition which is characterized by severe inflammation and eventual tooth and bone loss. Well we wouldn’t want to go there!

So tartar is a real baddie but then how can it impact anything beyond the mouth

Well there lies the real thing. Deposit in mouth can lead to bacteria and they love to flourish in unhygienic food laden mouth. These can lead to issues in rest of the body. Stuff like diabetes, heart issues, respiratory problems are some of the noted outcomes. In my earlier notes, I had also written about how unhygienic mouth can lead to pregnancy issues in women.

These are the worst parts, what’s the great part?

Food particles in the mouth decay to promote bad bacteria. These bacteria in turn cause bad breath. Now one can either stay with bad breath or use gums and fresheners to kill bad breath. So essentially, to wipe out one bad foreign element, we are introducing more foreign elements that might not be healthy for the mouth. I say, floss them out.

Flossing also keeps teeth white and shiny.

Well all these put together would make great sense, because not only does it provide sanity of the mouth, it helps you retain that great treasured smile of yours.

How does one floss?

Great questions. It’s pretty simple actually. Take a 15 to 18 inch long floss cord. Roll it around the pointing fingers of both the hands from the ends and hold it with thumbs. Slide it between the teeth and wrap it around each tooth in ‘C’ shape. Now polish the tooth with up and down motion.

If you have problems holding the floss with fingers, get a floss holder. That would do great.

Do not worry about a little blood in first couple of usages. That’s only because of the inflamed gums caused due to plaque build. You will be comfortable after a few usages.

If all this is a little confusing, go meet your dentist and ask him/her to demonstrate on how to floss effectively. They will be more than happy to do it for you. In the process they will also have a look at your mouth. And most of them would do it without a fee. I would do that for sure.

Do I have to floss daily?

Well that’s ideal but since flossing is not really part of our brushing habits it becomes a hassle to add another process to the brushing ritual.

I typically recommend to start with 3 days a week (any 3 days of your choice – pick 2 days of the weekend and 1 day from the other 5). The advantages of this simple yet extremely effective method are so amazing that it would become a part of daily ritual anyway. 

Trust me :-)