Periodontal disease usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to develop the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.
It is important to understand that the goal of flossing is to remove bacterial colonies from the sides of the tooth not just to remove food particles trapped between the teeth. Start with a piece of floss about 18” long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand. Wrap the rest of the floss around the middle of the other hand. Woven floss is good because it “squeaks” when the tooth has been properly cleaned. Waxed or gortex floss may be best if you have tight contacts or shred floss.
To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and the forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss between the teeth using a back and forth motion. Do not force the floss or try to snap it in to place. Bring the floss to the gum line than curve it into a C-shape against on tooth. Slide it into the space between the tooth and gums until you feel resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth to scrape the bacteria from the side of the tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to scrape each side of all the teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, advance the floss get a fresh section.
To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefingers of each hand. Do not forget the backside of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower.
When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily and remove the plaque your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop.
Caring for Sensitive Teeth
Sometimes after dental treatment, teeth are sensitive to hot and cold. This should not last long, but only if the mouth is kept clean. If the mouth is not kept clean the sensitivity will remain and could become more severe. If you teeth are especially sensitive, consult with your dentist. They may recommend a medicated toothpaste or mouth rinse made especially for sensitive teeth.
Choosing Oral Hygiene Products
Electric toothbrushes are safe and effective for the majority of patients. Oral irrigators (water spraying devises) will rinse your mouth thoroughly, but will not remove plaque. You need to brush and floss in conjunction with the irrigator. We see excellent results with the Senosonic (Waterpik) and the Sonicare (Phillips) electric toothbrushes.