Waterpicks and Flosses

Plaque, a sticky material full of germs, accumulates on teeth, especially in areas between and around the teeth where a toothbrush doesn’t reach. Not handled regularly, it can cause gum disease. The simplest way to rid your mouth of plaque is to daily brush and floss your teeth. A toothbrush will clean the tops and sides of teeth but dental floss can get to spots it can’t reach and clean between the teeth. Some people like to use waterpicks but dentists consider floss the best option.

Flossing Facts - Flossing and Waterpicks - Anoka Dental, MN

To floss or not to floss!

Flossing is very important in maintaining healthy teeth. Floss eliminates plaque and other particles that stick to the teeth and gums in the in-between areas. It polishes the tooth enamel and handles bad breath. It is the most important and vital tool you can use against plaque, even more, crucial than brushing with a toothbrush. A lot of men and women don’t spend enough time brushing and flossing their teeth or haven’t been taught how to clean their teeth properly. It’s good to have your dentist or dental hygienist show you proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Types of floss to use

There are several types of dental floss—waxed, unwaxed, thin or wide, flavored, etc. Dental tape or wide floss is good for people with bridgework. The tape is typically recommended for use when there are wide spaces between teeth. The different types of floss all do a good job of cleaning and removing plaque. Some people find waxed floss easier to work with and move between tight teeth and restorations. Some like the unwaxed floss because it tends to make a squeaking noise when teeth are clean. You can get bonded unwaxed floss that does not split or fray quite as easily as the regular unwaxed floss, but it tends to tear more than waxed floss does.

How to floss?

The two main methods for flossing are the loop and the spool method. The most common, the spool fine for people who have good manual dexterity. Just take an 18-inch piece of floss, winding the majority of it loosely around a finger. Then, wind the remainder of the floss likewise around the same finger on your other hand. This will be the finger that gathers up the floss after it is used and becomes soiled. Holding the floss between your index finger and thumb, move it back and forth between your teeth, being careful not to bring it too hard down on the gums which would hurt or irritate them. Move the floss up and down a number of times in a “C” form around the tooth, making sure you get the bottom of the tooth below the gum line.

The loop method is good for kids or grownups who have less finger dexterity, weak muscular coordination, or joint trouble, like arthritis. Just take an 18-inch piece of floss, making it into a circle. Tie it firmly with three knots. Put your fingers, excluding the thumb, in the circle or loop. Your index finger will guide the floss through lower teeth and the thumbs are used to take the floss through the top teeth. Make sure you go below the gum line with the floss in a “C” alongside the tooth.

Flossing frequency

You should floss on a daily basis, at least once each day. Spend at least 2 or 3 minutes in order to give the teeth a thorough flossing.

Using floss holders

You can get pre-threaded floss holders, looking like a hacksaw, with the floss stretched on a little frame. The floss holders are convenient for individuals with minimal dexterity. They are also good for kids or people who are new to flossing, or for people like caretakers when they have to floss somebody else’s teeth.

Toothpick safety

Toothpicks are good at getting rid of food stuck between teeth, but they do not replace a proper day-to-day cleansing of plaque from between the teeth. Floss is best for that. You can get toothpicks in round or flat shapes, and thin or thick. Whenever using a toothpick, be careful not to poke the gums or push too hard, causing it to break off and possibly lodging in the gums.

Waterpicks in dental hygiene

Waterpicks should not be used as a replacement for brushing and flossing. However, they are very efficient to use with orthodontic braces that tend to get food stuck in spots that the toothbrush does not always get to. They do not eliminate the plaque on the tooth enamel. Waterpicks are often recommended for people suffering from gum disease. Your dentist can prescribe solutions that contain chlorhexidine, tetracycline or similar anti-bacterial agents, and can be added to the waterpick’s water tank. For more information call us or book an appointment online.

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