New year, new habits

January 25th, 2016

Well ‘Dry January’ is in full swing, and the gyms and sports centres are still busy with those keeping their New Year resolutions. With 2016 now upon us, it’s the ideal time to reflect on our habits and ring the changes. How is your oral hygiene routine looking? What can you improve on in order to reduce your chances of tooth decay, gum disease and conditions such as mouth cancer? My resolution this year is to clean properly between my teeth. I’ve taken up flossing.

When we brush our teeth we are very good at cleaning the surface area that we can see in the mirror. As long as we are thorough in our brushing technique, we should be able to remove the majority of the food traces and substances that could cause tooth decay. However, the spaces between our teeth are much harder to reach. Our teeth might be very close together, and the bristles of our tooth brush might not be able to navigate the gaps. This means that food particles from our meals may linger in the spaces, causing sugars and acids to gradually erode our teeth.

Flossing is a way to ensure that you remove all those food particles from between your teeth, and to make sure that these areas are as clean as the surface areas.

When I started flossing, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I’d looked at the various implements and tools in the supermarkets, but didn’t really know where to start. So I took some advice from my dentist. I’d like to share this with you today.

  • Firstly you’ll need to decide whether to use dental tape, or floss. Some people find tape easier to use than floss, as it is a little thicker and therefore easier to hold.
  • Once you’re ready to go, you’ll need to break off about 45 centimetres of floss or tape. Wind the majority of this around your middle finger. The remainder should be wound around the same finger of the other hand. As you use up the floss, you’ll wind it onto this finger.
  • Hold the floss tightly between your fingers, leaving no slack. You should aim for about an inch of floss between them.
  • Gently ‘rock’ the floss between your teeth.
  • Once the floss has reached your gum line, pull your fingers round to form a C-shape against one tooth. Make sure you can feel the resistance.
  • Gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum.
  • Gradually move around your mouth ensuring you floss both sides of each gap.

When flossing, always ensure you follow a regular routine. Start with the same tooth and work your way round in the same order each time. It’s a good idea to start at the top and work left to right. Then move to the bottom and go left to right.

You may find that when you start flossing, your gums might bleed or be sore for the first few days. This can happen as the plaque starts to break down. However, if this continues beyond a few days then it’s a good idea to speak to your dental team to ensure you’re getting the technique right.

It’s been almost three weeks now and flossing is becoming easier, and more and more a part of my oral hygiene routine. It now feels more natural and much less of a chore. My teeth are also starting to feel much cleaner. It’s early days but the decision to floss, properly and regularly, was definitely the right one.

Speak to your dentist today for more information and advice on cleaning between your teeth.

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