While most of the American pseudo-holidays (think “National Pizza Day” or “National Pi Day”) are ridiculous, mundane, or just plain weird, we at Infinite Dental Wellness believe the day after Thanksgiving, deemed National Flossing Day, is worth celebrating for a number of reasons. First, the sweets served throughout the holidays can take a toll one’s dental health, making good dental hygiene habits during the season of candy, pies, and bread stuffing especially important. Furthermore, we think flossing’s relative unpopularity – a recent study found that 36% of people would prefer to wash dirty dishes, 9% would rather sit in gridlock traffic, and 7% would rather listen to small children cry on an airplane – is a result of poor technique or lack of knowledge about the benefits of flossing.
Proper Flossing Technique
Twice-daily brushing is crucial to maintaining good dental hygiene, but brushing alone doesn’t always eliminate the bits of food particles and sugary residue that gets stuck between teeth. To make sure you eliminate all traces of cavity-causing build-up, follow these proper flossing techniques for healthier teeth and gums:
- Begin with around 18 inches of floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle fingers on each hand (but not too tightly!), leaving an inch or two of floss stretched tightly between thumb and forefinger.
- Begin wherever you’d like, sliding the floss between teeth and making sure to go around the base of the tooth and below the gumline. If your gums hurt, you’re probably applying too much pressure.
- As you move from space to space, use a clean section of floss.
Benefits of Proper Flossing
Flossing may be hated by Americans, but its benefits are too numerous and life-changing to ignore. Some of the most compelling reasons to floss regularly include:
- Fighting Bad Breath. Most of the time, bad breathe is cause by decaying food stuck between teeth (yuck!). Flossing helps to dislodge these disgusting remnants of our breakfast, lunch, or dinner and sweep away bad breath-causing bacteria.
- Preventing Cavities. While bad breath is the most immediate side-effect of food caught between teeth, the long-term consequences these “leftovers” include bacteria (which feed on food), plaque (a byproduct of bacteria), and cavities (which are caused by plaque eating away at tooth enamel.
- Protecting Against Gum Disease. While plaque can cause holes in teeth, it can also cause inflammation in gums (a condition called Gingivitis) and, if not treated, can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Regular flossing helps eliminate the plaque before it has a chance to develop into something more serious.