Floss picks, or regular floss? Is one better than the other? While it’s better to use a floss pick than to not floss at all, floss picks can only clean a part of the tooth’s surface, and that may not bode well for your dental hygiene. Here in San Antonio, William J. Stewart Jr. DDS recommends traditional floss or dental tape over picks. Here’s why:
A floss pick holds just a small length of floss stretched in a straight line. But teeth have a rounded shape, with occasional irregularities. A straight length of floss just doesn’t conform to those contours as well as traditional floss used properly.
By wrapping traditional dental floss or tape completely around the circumference of a tooth, you can more effectively clean around and just below the gumline. And your fingers are much more agile than a piece of plastic.
We have seen patients who are committed to their dental hygiene, and used floss picks daily. Yet they developed decay due to a hairline crack the floss pick consistently missed.
Here is a review on proper flossing:
- Cut a segment of floss about 18 inches long and securely wind each end around your middle fingers.
- Take hold of the floss with your forefinger and thumb, leaving about two inches to work with.
- Thread the floss between two teeth.
- Hold the floss securely against the side of the tooth and move it up and away from the gumline. You want to clean the space between the tooth and gum without pulling more gum tissue away, so it’s critical to scrape up and out of the pocket.
- Move the floss around the tooth to clean every surface – especially those that your brush can’t reach. You can use a “shoeshine” method if you like. As you use a section of floss, unwind from one hand to access a clean piece. With 18 inches, you should have enough to provide a clean length for each tooth. If you run out, that’s okay. Just toss the used piece and cut a new segment.
- Some people find it smoother to commence on one end of the upper teeth and clean each gap one by one until they reach the end on the opposite side, and then repeat for the lower arch. Whatever method you elect, make sure you clean around every tooth, including the back surfaces of the rear molars.
If you have never flossed before, your gums might bleed the first few times. The bleeding may be due to gum inflammation, the beginnings of gum disease. Keep flossing gently and the bleeding usually stops within a week or two.
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