Dental floss. Usage. Purpose

Floss. Application. Effectiveness

Following traditional tooth brushing, there are areas on particular tooth surfaces that cannot be cleaned, either because access is limited by the positioning of the dental units on the arches or because of gaps and crowding. Therefore, hygiene aids such as mouthwash, floss or interdental brushes should be used.

The aim of dental hygiene is to remove as much of the resident plaque as possible to prevent the build-up of plaque on the tooth surfaces. Complete removal of bacteria is impossible, so maintaining oral health is a continuous and sustained process that should not be skipped under any circumstances.

How do we floss?

Areas that are difficult to clean with a toothbrush include interdental surfaces, periodontal niches (areas between the interdental contact point and the gums), subgingival spaces, and the collar of teeth that have crowns.

First of all, we will start by choosing a floss that is comfortable for the patient. There are the following types of dental floss:

  • Nylon: it is multifilament and is available in waxed or unwaxed versions

  • Teflon: is monofilament.

Approximately 40 cm of floss will be cut and wrapped around the pointing fingers and the passage from the gums to the tooth will be made at each interdental space, with a gentle back-and-forth motion. It is recommended to use it at least once a day, preferably in the evening, before or after the classic brushing.

Why floss?

  • removes food residues and plaque: the development and growth of bacterial pathogenicity is facilitated by food residues in the oral cavity. The longer the food remains in the oral cavity, the more it will, through decomposition by acids, form a stronger basis for the growth of micro-organisms. It is therefore necessary to remove them as early as possible.

  • eliminates unpleasant breath: together with the other oral hygiene aids, it helps to maintain fresh, non-disturbing breath for the patient and the surrounding environment. Halitosis or unpleasant odor from the mouth is caused by the rotting food products or the existence of carious processes, so dental check-ups are recommended when this sign appears.

  • prevents gum inflammation: once in the subgingival space, bacteria overcome the local defiance capacity and cause gum inflammation. This is soon followed by bleeding, first when brushing and then spontaneously, the signs representing a prodrome for periodontitis, which will lead in time to the avulsion of teeth from the arch. Gingivitis or gingival inflammation is a reversible process with proper hygiene whereas bone resorption is definitive and irreversible.

Flossing should be started as soon as possible to accustom the patient to this habit.

Even if in the beginning there is not enough dexterity and patients tend to lose patience, with time, this adjuvant means of hygiene will become part of daily brushing. In the dentist’s office, the dentist can assist the patient while they floss to guide them correctly.

Studies show that traditional tooth brushing removes only 50% of bacteria because we can only access 3 of the 5 surfaces of each tooth. That’s why adjuvants such as mouthwash or floss should not be omitted.

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