Monday, September 21, 2009


Imagine no longer having any surprises at the dentist about cavities hiding between teeth. If there's one thing that you can be doing to improve your oral hygiene (reduce cavities, gum disease and bad breath), without having to spend a lot of money or invest a lot of time into, it's flossing your teeth.

I have patients who tell me "Doctor, my gums bleed when I brush my teeth!" and "I get sensitive feelings between my teeth!" When I ask them about their flossing habits, they often say the same thing, "Oh I only floss when I get something caught in my teeth," or "The last time I flossed? Ummm, I think you did it!"

No one seems to like to floss!

Listen closely folks... Want to keep your teeth in your mouth nice and healthy? Go out, buy yourself some floss (whether it's Oral B Satin, or Crest's Glide, or any other brand that looks appealing to you), and start flossing your teeth ONCE A DAY! Here's how:

  1. Take a strip of floss in your hands, and wind it around your middle fingers.
  2. Slide the floss between your teeth gently, and guide it between your teeth and the gums.
  3. 'Hug the tooth,' with the floss and make several up-and-down strokes. Then, move the floss to hug the tooth on the other side for several up-and-down strokes.
  4. Remove the floss, and move on to the next interproximal area (ie. the area between two teeth).
If you're new to flossing, it may be necessary to do this in the bathroom in front of a mirror. If you're relatively comfortable with flossing, I have an even better tip for you: Keep some floss near your television set, and floss at night while watching TV! You're sitting there doing nothing while watching your favorite show, so you may as well floss! This will make flossing much less of a tedious habit, and more of an enjoyable activity.

Also, if you're new to flossing or haven't flossed in many days, don't be alarmed if your gums bleed a bit. The reason for the bleeding is your gums are inflamed. This is called 'gingivitis.' The gums are inflamed from having bacteria/germs built up in these areas (which happens within minutes/hours of eating without properly cleaning your teeth). After flossing once a day for a few days, you should notice this bleeding goes away (as the inflammation of the gums goes away). If bleeding is profuse, or it doesn't go away after a week of careful flossing, contact your dentist.

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