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Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - City of Falls Church
510 N. Washington St, Suite 301, Falls Church, VA 22046

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Why Flossing Is a Must, Not a Maybe

Many people feel that they can skip out on flossing their teeth. That’s because they operate under the misconception that brushing your teeth twice a day is good enough to keep decay, disease and dental damage from occurring. While brushing your teeth is an important element of maintaining your oral health, it’s only the beginning. The most effective way to remove plaque from in between your teeth and gums is to floss at least once a day.

Flossing is an excellent preventative tool to fight plaque. Plaque is sticky, clear film that covers the surface of your teeth and gums whenever you consume foods or beverages. It is full of bacteria that create a type of acid that wears down tooth enamel. It will eventually harden and lead to gum inflammation, gum disease, and tooth decay. Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to prevent these conditions from doing serious damage. All it takes is setting aside a few minutes every day to floss your teeth.

In addition to being great for the health of your teeth and gums, flossing could also be good for the health of your entire body. In recent years, researchers have found that there could be a link between gum diseases and systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and pneumonia. More research needs to be done on this link, but many dentists believe that the link is the inflammation caused by the bacteria that exists within people’s mouths. Flossing each and every day helps to keep those bacteria levels low and reduces your risk for developing serious chronic health conditions.

While people of all ages should floss, there are some who are more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. Those who have chronic health conditions or who take certain prescription medications may develop a condition known as dry mouth. This condition leads to lower levels of saliva within the mouth. Since the primary purpose of saliva is to rinse the mouth clean of bacteria, people who produce lower levels of saliva are more likely to have higher bacteria levels in their mouths. If you have any issues with saliva production, talk to your dentist to learn more about how frequently you should be brushing and flossing your teeth in order to reduce your risk of developing dental health issues.

Did you know that there is a proper way to floss your teeth? The best way to perform this essential oral hygiene habit is to take a length of dental floss and bring it to the base of your tooth. You will then gently and carefully pull the length of floss along each side of the tooth. This allows you to reach and get rid of plaque and food particles in each crevice. This gentle movement should be repeated on each of your teeth with a fresh portion of floss.

Children Need to Floss Too!

While it can be a challenge to encourage children to floss, it’s an important part of their oral health. Daily flossing assists in fighting plaque, cleaning teeth, improving breath, and preventing serious dental care issues. Dentists agree that flossing once a day is just as important as brushing the teeth twice a day. This means that you need to help your child learn how to perform this habit every day. This education should start as soon as your child has two teeth that have grown in side by side. Once this has occurred, you can teach your child about the sensations and how important it is to establish a flossing habit. While it isn’t always easy to teach these kinds of skills, it will pay off in the long run.

Tips to Make Flossing Fun for Kids

1. Track Their Success – Incentives and rewards are a great way to encourage daily flossing. Create or purchase a flossing chart and place it on the bathroom wall. Each time your child flosses, have him or her place a fun sticker on the chart. When they reach a certain number of stickers, offer a reward such as staying up late, going to the movies or getting a new toy.

2. Make it Fun – Flossing doesn’t have to be a tedious chore. Be creative and tell exciting stories about flossing to your child. Or play an upbeat song and have your child floss the beat of the music. Making flossing time a fun and silly event will make it easier to get your child to cooperate.

3. Get Child-specific Tools – Giving your child a special tool designed just for children is an excellent way to encourage him or her to floss. Floss sticks are a popular pediatric dental tool. These sticks come in fun colors (and sometimes glow in the dark). They are easy for children to grip onto, but you will usually need to use more than one to floss all of their teeth since the sticks are smaller in size.

4. Praise a Job Well Done – Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to help your child form a healthy habit. Giving your child kudos for flossing their teeth will make your child feel good about developing a new habit. It will keep your child motivated to continue flossing for the rest of their life.

5. Teach by Doing – Kids typically learn from their parents or guardians. If your child sees you flossing every day, he or she will be more likely to do the same. Make flossing a family habit and allow everyone in the family to benefit from it.

How to Floss Your Teeth, Properly

Dental professionals from the American Dental Hygienists Association tell us that there are only four easy steps involved to properly floss your teeth. They are:

1. Wind – Use approximately 18 inches of floss between the thumbs and index fingers and tightly tug on both ends to make the strand taut.
2. Guide – Using your index fingers, lead the floss between the area in between the top and bottom of each of your teeth.
3. Glide – Smoothly and gently move the floss in between the teeth with a gliding motion.
4. Slide – Utilize a clean segment of floss for each of your teeth and carefully move the strand up and down over each tooth’s surface and under the gumline.

If you dislike using regular floss, you can try utilizing a hand-held or electric flosser. The technique for using these tools is similar to using traditional floss. The only difference is that you will hold onto the flosser’s handle instead of the string itself.
Flossing around braces or other types of dental work can be tricky. You need to be careful to not tangle the floss. You can use special floss threaders or orthodontic floss to assist you in flossing in the smaller spaces created by braces and other dental devices. No matter what you use to floss, you need to be sure that you are always being gentle when you are flossing.

Establishing a healthy daily oral health routine that includes regular flossing will do wonders for the overall health of your teeth and gums. To discover more about how to properly floss, contact Dental Associates of Northern Virginia - City of Falls Church for some handy hints on this habit.

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(703) 988-6938