Is flossing really necessary?
This is a topic of discussion that pops up all the time. Do I need to floss? Does floss really prevent decay? Does flossing really prevent gum disease?
My parents’ don’t floss and their teeth and gums are fine. There have been articles saying that flossing is dead, and that there is weak and unreliable evidence proving that flossing is a necessity.
It Depends on Who You Talk To
If it is someone from the public, you can only take that advice with a grain of salt. However if it comes from a dental professional who understands your teeth and gums, then they are more likely to have a better grasp of how your mouth would benefit from flossing. Why do we say this? Is it because we are biased? No not really.
The Effects of Brushing Alone
It is because we have seen from our own experience the detrimental effects of using a manual or electric toothbrush alone. Don’t get me wrong, would we rather you only floss and not brush? No way! But every instrument has a specific job.
A toothbrush is used to remove the plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that you can see. So that means the biting surface, the tongue and palate surface, and the cheek and lip surface of the teeth.
The Australian Society of Orthodontics says that with only brushing, there is still 40% of tooth surface that is untouched and uncleaned. However when you are in braces, the brackets and the wires are in the way and prevent you from getting to even more tooth surface. This is why we then recommend the use of piksters to access the tooth surface under the wire and the sides of the brackets.
Surely My Teeth Must be Clean Now
If you think your teeth are clean after brushing and using a pikster, do me a favour and chew on a disclosing tablet. This will highlight the plaque that is stuck in between the teeth and at the gumline, which will look like a Y shape between the teeth. This is because it is nearly impossible to get a gigantic toothbrush and pikster brush in that tiny little space between the teeth. And guess what? That’s why we then recommend the use of floss.
But Why Floss?
It is the only thing small enough to squeeze in between the teeth and go underneath the gum to remove the rest of the plaque that is present.
Some people say ‘but now you’re pushing plaque under the gum’. Well it is already there and by rubbing the floss up and down each side of each tooth, you’re loosening the plaque off the sides of the teeth so that it has the chance to be removed. If you don’t floss at all, there’s still going to be plaque stuck in between the teeth regardless.
Are some people just lucky and don’t need to floss? Well, yes. We do see people who hardly ever floss and don’t have decay between the teeth, and luckily for them they don’t have gum problems. But are you willing to risk it and hope that you are one of those people because they are few and far between.
Not Flossing Can be Devastating AND Costly
Believe me, it is devastating when you get your braces off expecting to see a gorgeous smile shining back at you in the mirror, only to see weird white or brown squares on the teeth. Even worse, to be told that you have to see the general dentist as soon as possible to have fillings done which can be very costly.
We want you to have the best smile ever when you leave us here at Ocean Orthodontics so if you ever think ‘Do I need to floss?’ the answer should be a big YES!.
At first flossing is a bit tricky, like all tasks the more you do it the better you become. Flossing properly should only take 2-3 minutes once you get the hang of it.