We get asked this question on a daily basis. Do I need to floss? Does floss really prevent decay? Does flossing really prevent gum disease? My parents’ don’t floss and their teeth and gums are fine.
One thing is for certain, all dental professionals will tell you that flossing is needed to maintain optimal gum health for all ages.
Brushing alone without flossing does not take care of all the areas on the mouth properly.
A toothbrush is used to remove the plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that you can see. So that means the biting surface, the tongue and palate surface, and the cheek and lip surface of the teeth. After brushing there is still 40% of tooth surface that is untouched and uncleaned. However when you are in braces, the brackets and the wires are in the way and prevent you from getting to even more tooth surface. This is why we then recommend the use of piksters to access the tooth surface under the wire and the sides of the brackets.
Surely My Teeth Must be Clean Now
If you think your teeth are clean after brushing and using a pikster, do me a favour and chew on a disclosing tablet. This will highlight the plaque that is stuck in between the teeth and at the gumline, which will look like a Y shape between the teeth. This is because it is nearly impossible to get a gigantic toothbrush and pikster brush in that tiny little space between the teeth. And guess what? That’s why we then recommend the use of floss.
But Why Floss?
Floss is the only thing small enough to squeeze in between the teeth and go underneath the gum to remove the rest of the plaque that is present.
Some people say ‘but now you’re pushing plaque under the gum’. Well it is already there and by rubbing the floss up and down each side of each tooth, you’re loosening the plaque off the sides of the teeth so that it has the chance to be removed. If you don’t floss at all, there’s still going to be plaque stuck in between the teeth regardless.
Are some people just lucky and don’t need to floss? Well, yes. We do see people who hardly ever floss and don’t have decay between the teeth, and luckily for them they don’t have gum problems. But are you willing to risk it and hope that you are one of those people because they are few and far between.
At first flossing is a bit tricky, like all tasks the more you do it the better you become. Flossing properly should only take 2-3 minutes once you get the hang of it.