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To Floss or Not

Preventative Dentistry

Prevention is better than cure and you’ll quickly come to realise that at Serenity Dental we live by that statement. One area that really helps combating tooth decay and gum disease is flossing. Not every one’s cup of tea at first but after a short amount of practice most people get the hang of it.



In this blog dental nurse and oral health educator Kelley Clark, gives her guidance on flossing.

Why Should People Floss?

Regular flossing is just as important for your oral health as brushing. You are advised to floss each day for good dental health. Dental floss will allow you to combat plaque between the teeth and gums. It will remove unsightly and potentially harmful debris from the teeth and gum-line.

So, What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a white, sticky substance comprised of bacteria which lurks around the gum margin and in between our teeth. The bacteria feed upon the food that is left behind after we eat at any time of the day. If the bacteria builds up then it is likely to cause inflammation of the gums and subsequently bleeding.

However, our gums will become increasingly healthy and the side effects will stop if we floss on an everyday basis.

How Should People Floss?

To achieve the best oral results it is necessary to floss each day before brushing. This will allow you to remove all the food bacteria and debris which has accumulated between the teeth and gums. The toothbrush will then wash these bad bacteria away.

There is a temptation to reverse the process of flossing and brushing. However, this method is relatively ineffective and may lead to the development of bad breath.

The average user is expected to require about 45cm of dental floss. This should be wound around the middle finger of each hand, leaving only a few cm between for a smooth glide through your mouth. The floss should be pulled tight for insertion between the contacts of your teeth.

Some people use a sawing motion when flossing but this can lead to gum damage and bleeding.

It is worth bearing in mind that the contact point between the teeth is often tight. You should be careful not to exert to much force and risk damaging the gums. Once the floss is through the contact point you should floss gently up and down the side of teeth and underneath the gum-line.

You may remove the floss via the contact point or let go with one hand and gently pull the floss from your mouth.

What Type Of Floss Should You Use?

You will discover that there are different types of floss. Nylon floss is a particularly common choice. However, this material is prone to breaking and shredding. Dental tape is a stronger alternative and is available from dentists and local pharmacies. Some people opt for the strength of PTFE or glide floss. However, this floss variety is slightly more expensive.

Dental floss may be waxed for an improved grip and glide. There’s also the option of buying flavoured floss for a more pleasurable everyday experience. Those people who have difficulty flossing may consider the additional purchase of floss holders and picks for convenience.

Serenity Dental advise people under the age of 14 against flossing, unless they are supervised by responsible adults. However, we are able to provide guidance on brushing techniques and other solutions for optimum oral health.

Flossing Isn’t Something New

An American dentist by the name of Levi Spear Palmly was responsible for the development of flossing during the early 19th century. He and his colleagues recommended silk floss.

However, dental floss didn’t become commercially available until 1882. Dr Charles C Bass went on to create nylon floss in response to the silk shortage during World War 2.

If you need advice, guidance or a demonstration on how to floss please talk to our staff who will delighted to help you.


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