Dental floss is a handy little tool that is used to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth. Known to be the perfect companion to the toothbrush, dental floss usually ends up being the neglected one of the two; even though it is a widely known fact that regular flossing is critical to the maintenance of dental health. The ones who do floss on a regular basis have often been guilty of reusing their floss as well, a fact that has been proven to be an unhealthy habit by the American Dental Association (ADA).
What is Dental Floss Made of & What Does It Do?
Dental floss is made up of nylon and polymer monofilaments. While we all use the toothbrush to clean our teeth, tongue and other areas in our mouth, dental floss reaches spots where the toothbrush cannot. Apart from cleaning the difficult spaces between teeth, dental floss also gets below the gum line and removes plaque from the root surfaces of the tooth. This is especially important for older people; as their gums begin to recede, the root surfaces of their teeth are exposed. Since they are not protected by enamel like the tooth crown, using floss to clean the root surfaces becomes essential.
Types of Dental Floss
Dental floss is a type of interdental cleaning device that comes as either waxed or unwaxed type. While there is no difference in the effectiveness of either type, the waxed floss may leave a film of wax between teeth that are not liked by some individuals. Dental floss is also often treated with flavoring agents like mint to make it more pleasant.
How to Floss?
The American Dental Association recommends certain guidelines to follow while flossing your teeth.
- The length of the floss to be used should be around 18 inches
- Wrap the floss around the middle finger of both hands and start flossing from one end of your mouth by holding the thread tightly between your thumb and forefinger
- To begin, guide the floss between two adjacent teeth all the way till the gum line
- Gently move it in an up and down position while keeping it curved in a C-shape around the tooth. Never use the floss with a side-to-side movement as it can injure the gums and lead to bleeding.
- Repeat the same for spaces between each tooth.
It should be kept in mind that each time you move to a different position between teeth, a new section of the dental floss should be used. Reusing a used section of the floss to clean a different part of the mouth may lead to the reintroduction of older bacteria and plaque.
Can Dental Floss Be Reused?
Washing used dental floss and storing it for reuse is a common practice. However, as conventional as it might seem, recycling or reusing dental floss is never a good idea. Dental floss fibers tend to get frayed after just a single use; this is because floss is designed to be used only once and becomes less and less effective with continued usage.
Moreover, used dental floss can redistribute oral bacteria back into your mouth from previous cleaning sessions. Simply washing them is not enough to get rid of the micro-organisms that can cling to the fibers of the dental floss. The place where you store your used dental floss is also teeming with different kinds of micro-organisms, which can be picked up by your floss thread. This can lead to the introduction of new types of bacteria in your mouth and increased risks of infection.
Other alternatives to dental floss like gum picks, plackers, or any other type of interdental cleaners should also be used only once. For more information on dental flossing and other ways to keep your mouth clean, visit Anoka Dental today.