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The crown of a tooth has five sides. Box-y teeth like molars have more distinct sides than anterior (front) teeth, but they all have four sides and a top/bottom. With excellent twice-daily brushing you can remove all the germs and plaque from the areas pointing in towards the tongue, out towards the cheeks and lips, plus up or down. But even the best tooth-brusher cannot clean the other sides of the tooth — the sides touching other teeth. This is where flossing comes in.
Without the bulk of hundreds of short bristles, a single string of floss is able to get between the cracks of teeth. From there, it brushes and scrubs away plaque and bacteria. It pulls away trapped food particles, and easily slides towards the gums where it helps to prevent gum disease. Just like you wouldn’t wash three quarters of a plate and then eat off it, it doesn’t make sense to leave two sides of your teeth dirty.
People can get a little “hygienically-superior” when it comes to flossing. Depending on who you ask, you’ll be told that you definitely, absolutely need to floss just before bed. Ask someone else, and they’ll proclaim night-flossing as blasphemy — floss in the morning or not all. You’ll find a similar split between those who floss and then brush, and those that brush and then floss. But just between dental clinic and reader, we’ll let you in on a secret. We don’t give a flying tooth-fairy when you floss — as long as you actually do it.
Whether you have a one year old with just a few teeth touching or are ninety-five with few natural teeth left, flossing is important. Good flossing habits start young, so it’s important for parents to model good flossing behaviours and to teach their kids how to floss effectively. As for grandma and grandpa, remind them that implants and porcelain crowns may not get cavities, but gum disease is still a big deal, so flossing isn’t optional.
Often it seems like not flossing enough is the great uniter of all Calgarians and maybe all Canadians. We know that flossing can be a pain. And, if you haven’t flossed in a while, the habit is difficult to build and your gums may bleed and itch. But we promise that flossing is worth the effort, so keep at it!
Do you have any questions about flossing or oral hygiene? Your friendly dental experts at Centennial Smiles are here to help! Give us a call (587) 317‑7959.