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Life on a thread

 | June 12, 2012

The finer points of flossing.


YES, flossing is essential for healthy teeth, but are we doing it correctly?

When it comes to oral hygiene, we all own up to being a wee bit slack in that department. Some of us religiously brush our teeth twice a day, but when it comes to flossing, we’re too lazy to care.

Yet, all the future of your dental health relies on that one piece of thread. Recent research also points out links between oral health and diabetes, heart disease and even dementia.

Somehow, flossing is one of those topics no one discusses openly. In school, we get dentists coming in for show-and-tell on the importance of brushing teeth but no one ever discusses flossing’s finer points.

Flossing is essential because brushing reaches only 70% of tooth surface. Flossing helps us reach places where brushing doesn’t. It prevents plaque build up. Cavities (tooth decay) and gum disease are all due to dental plaque. The plaque becomes calcified (dental tartar) when left unchecked for more than 24 hours. From here on, it becomes difficult to floss or brush the tartar off.

Flossing should be done after every meal. If you can’t do that, then at least floss at the end of the day. “It’s a question of time management. If you skip the morning’s flossing, just make sure you spend time to thoroughly floss in the evenings,” says dental surgeon Dr Malek Aziz,

And the biggest flossing mistake? Not knowing the proper technique. “Flossing is not just sliding the floss up and down between teeth; you need to move the floss against the sides of adjacent teeth,” explains Dr Malek. Do not snap floss in between the teeth either, as this can injure the gums, resulting in receding gums.

As to whether you should use waxed or unwaxed floss, that is a matter of preference.

But floss we must. And as the saying goes: “You should only floss the teeth you want to keep.”


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