While tooth brushing is almost a universal practice amongst prople everywhere, interdental cleaning, including the use of dental floss is not practiced regularly by the majority of the population. Everyone should carry out dental flossing which is the most widely used interdental cleaning method. Tooth brushing, no matter how well it is performed, is unable to dislodge dental plaque in the interproximal areas where teeth contact each other. This is another vital area for gum health, as serious gum disease will often progress from this spot in the 10-15% of the population who are susceptible. Even those who are not susceptible to serious gum disease may experience localised gum infections that will respond to good oral hygiene practices including brushing and flossing.
How to use dental floss:
Step 1: Release 12 to 14 inches from the spool of floss.
Step 2: Wrap floss around both middle fingers leaving about 3 inches free.
Step 3: Use thumb of left hand and forefinger of right hand to guide the floss between contact points of the front teeth upper and lower.
Step 4: Use a sawing action to gently guide the floss down and up the side of each tooth, this removes the plaque effectively.
Step 5: For the back teeth use both forefingers to guide the floss into the contact points and use the sawing action to guide the floss up and down the side of each tooth.
Some people may find this task difficult especially if their manual dexterity is compromised in any way. There are several types of flossing aids with handles that make this easier. Dental floss should always be used with great care as rough handling could damage your gums; the sawing action protects against any unnecessary force being used. When gum disease is already established and the gum has receded from the interproximal area between neighbouring teeth, dental floss is no longer as effective. Interdental brushes are an effective substitute to dental floss and can be bought in a wide variety of sizes to fit exactly into the interdental spaces.
Don’t forget to clean your tongue:
The main benefit of tongue cleaning on oral health is to eliminate and prevent bad breath (halitosis). In individuals who have good gum health the accumulation of bacteria on the back of the tongue are the main sources of sulfide gases which are responsible for malodour giving rise to bad breath. Tongue brushing is highly recommended for individuals suffering from halitosis. Tongue cleaning may also benefit as part of the treatment of gum disease in helping to reduce the overall amount of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth.