Am I Flossing Right?

girl holding floss by her teeth in chandler

Knowing how and how often to floss properly is essential for keeping good oral hygiene. Flossing removes plaque that can develop between your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease by cleaning the tight spaces in between teeth that your toothbrush can’t seem to reach. Take the time to learn how to floss properly to ensure that your teeth are healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Floss Once a Day

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing your teeth once a day. If you get into the habit of flossing before you go to bed at night, you won’t need to worry about flossing more than that. Excessive flossing is ineffective and can actually cause damage and irritation to sensitive gum tissue.

Use a Gentle Touch

It’s important to be gentle when flossing. Many people apply a lot of pressure or use a vigorous sawing motion, thinking this will get their teeth clean. But this kind of forceful flossing can lead to bleeding gums. Instead, floss lightly. Do not force or snap the floss against the gums. Try to use the side of the tooth to slide the floss gently into place.

Standard Floss: Waxed vs. Unwaxed

What is the difference between waxed and unwaxed floss, even if it’s just a preference? Nylon floss comes in both varieties, and there are some pros and cons to each. Waxed floss glides more easily between teeth, snaps less often and is softer against your gumline. Unwaxed floss can be more effective in parsing out fine debris particles and for reaching between crowded teeth, but it can snap and snare on teeth. Shredded floss can occur when you have rough surfaces in your mouth, such as uneven teeth, old fillings or braces. Likewise, constant snaring may injure gums and cause discomfort or bleeding.

close up of floss and teeth male

Unfortunately, many people disregard this wisdom, with statistics published in U.S. News and World Report showing that only about one-third of the U.S. population flosses daily. But common or uncommon, it’s integral to preventing tooth loss and gum disease.

How often should I floss?

You should floss at least once a day, and do so by moving the floss in a push-pull and up-and-down motion between your teeth. To get the best results, particularly if you have braces or other oral considerations, it’s always best to seek your dentist’s instruction on the best way to floss your teeth.

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We all know soda rots your teeth out and milk makes your bones strong, but what foods are best for your teeth? After being asked this question by a great number of our patients, we came up with seven of the best foods for your mouth. When it comes to the health of your teeth, you really are what you eat. Sugary foods, such as candy, contribute to tooth decay. One of the first areas to decline when your diet is less than ideal is your oral health, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Use this healthy foods list to improve your diet and the health of your mouth.

Yogurt

Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens typically find their way onto any healthy foods list. They’re full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach also promote oral health. They’re high in calcium, which builds your teeth’s enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits. If you have trouble getting leafy greens into your diet, add a handful of baby spinach to your next salad or throw some kale on a pizza. You can also try adding some greens to a smoothie.

Cheese

If you’re one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. A study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry, found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It’s thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Apples

While the ADA recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples, might be sweet, but they’re also high in fiber and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums. Eating an apple isn’t the same as brushing your teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, but it can tide you over until you have a chance to brush. Pack either a whole apple or apple slices in your lunch to give your mouth a good scrubbing at the end of the meal.

Carrots

Like apples, carrots are crunchy and full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. Along with being high in fiber, carrots are a great source of vitamin A. Top a salad with a few slices of raw carrots, or enjoy some baby carrots on their own.

Celery

Celery might get a bad reputation for being bland, watery and full of those pesky strings, but like carrots and apples, it acts a bit like a toothbrush, scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost. Make celery even tastier by topping it with cream cheese.

Almonds

Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar. Enjoy a quarter cup of almonds with your lunch. You can also add a handful to a salad or to a stir-fry dinner.

Along with adding more leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you’re drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.

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