The most important part of dental care takes place at home. Brushing and flossing properly, along with regular dental checkups and visits to the hygienist, can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Clean off the plaque
To prevent cavities and gum disease, you need to remove plaque. Plaque is a layer of bacteria that coats the teeth. Everyone makes plaque in the mouth, but if it is allowed to grow on your teeth it makes the gums inflamed and teeth decay, The best way to remove bacterial plaque is by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
I floss but my gums still bleed.
Bleeding is one of the signs of inflammation, meaning you have early sign of gum disease. Healthy gums do not bleed. If you have bleeding gums it means you are probably leaving some plaque on your teeth and your flossing technique needs tweaking. Once you start flossing in a proper way, the inflammation of your gums will reduce and bleeding will stop.
This is why it is important to let your hygienist show you how to floss - so that it works for you.
I brush three times a day, do I need to floss?
Brushing alone won't remove bacteria and food particles from in between the teeth and under the gum line. If you don't floss, the surface of the tooth under the gum line never gets cleaned, and bacteria can thrive there for days, weeks, or even months leading to serious problems, such as tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums, infected gums and infected bone that anchors the teeth.
How to floss?
Be careful to avoid the gum injury.
Follow these steps:
Carefully insert floss between two teeth using back and forth motion.
Gently bring the floss to the gum line and curve it around the edge of the tooth in a letter 'C' shape.
Slide the floss up and down the side of each tooth and under the gum line.
Break about 18" inches of floss and leave an inch or two between your fingers to work with. Follow the shape of your teeth and under the gum line.
Which floss do I need?
If used correctly any type of floss would work, but waxed floss or tape is recommended for the comfort of use. Waxed floss glides easily between the teeth making flossing easy and quick.
I can't floss, I find it difficult. What are my options?
Again, the hygienist would look at your flossing technique with you. Maybe it just needs changing to make it easier for you. But floss isn't for everyone. You can use floss picks, which come on a handle, or interdental brushes. The key is to clean between the teeth effectively.
I read an article that flossing does not work.
The Associated Press in the US released a report saying that floss had no proven benefits. Being a dental professional I know that flossing has positive effects not only on dental health but on general health too. If done properly, it removes bacterial layer form underneath the gum line. If bacteria are left under the gum, they may penetrate the blood vessels and get into the bloodstream contributing to general health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, lung problems and pregnancy problems.
An example is a study from 2006, which included 808 participants and was done over a year and a half. The trial groups were: 1) professionally flossed five times a week, 2) professionally flossed once every three months, 3) self-reported flossing at home.
Those who were flossed professionally five times a week had 40 percent reduced risk of tooth decay. The groups of participants who were flossed professionally every three months and flossed at home showed no decrease in risk of dental decay. This is where the results might confuse someone reading the report, because people who flossed at home showed no result.
This study shows that when teeth are flossed with proper techniques, the risk of dental decay is reduced. You can floss 'professionally' at home - just ask your dentist or hygienist to show you how to do it.
Just do it
Follow good dental hygiene habits and your gums will return to health. don't let your gums turn red, swell and bleed. Healthy gums are more comfortable.