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Dental Flossing 101

Yes It's a Bother, But You Still Need to Do It

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Flossing has, to be fair, been a topic of much discussion and even a little controversy over the last year or so, but, as we have explained before, it really is still a must. And, we'll admit, sometimes the most annoying and challenging part of a good oral health routine. It's a fiddly procedure that many of us get annoyed with and even get it more than a bit wrong sometimes. However, flossing the right way is not really as hard as it might seem, all you need to know are the basics of the best way to do it. Not really sure what those are? Read on to find out.

A Step by Step Guide to the Proper Way to Floss

  • After brushing your teeth take around 18 inches of dental floss and wrap the majority of it around your middle finger.
  • Next, wrap the remaining loose floss around the opposite finger, leaving enough floss between them to rub between your teeth comfortably.
  • Holding it tight between thumbs and forefingers, insert the floss between your teeth using a careful seesaw motion. Don't do so too quickly as you may injure the sensitive gum tissue around your teeth if you do.
  • Once the dental floss is between your teeth curve it into a rough 'c' shape around one of them and rub up and down gently, ensuring that you keep the floss pressed against the tooth. Again, go slow to avoid injury.
  • Reverse the 'c' to clean the other side of the tooth, repeat the process and then gently remove the floss from your teeth.
  • Clean all of your teeth in this manner, using fresh floss as necessary. Pay special attention to your back teeth, as this is where a great many instances of gum disease and tooth decay begin, as the tartar and plaque buildup there is much harder to see with the naked eye.

As we mentioned, some people get pretty desperate when they are stuck with a toothache that just won't quit. Two aspirins didn't work, so they take four. Four don't work either so they take four more. That, however, is a terrible idea. The correct dosage of an anti-inflammatory OTC pain reliever might provide some relief - hopefully it does - but if it doesn't, taking so many more that you start to rattle a bit is not going to help.

It also won't help to try to booze away the pain. Well, it might for a little while, if you drink enough, but within a couple of hours you'll have a banging hangover AND a terrible toothache to contend with and, if you were also popping Advil, you could seriously have damaged your health.

Then there are those weird home remedies that Google's thrown up for you. A few temporary pain killing home remedies do work (more about that in a moment) but most are nonsense. Some suggest gobbling garlic over a visit to a dentist asap, but unless you are also dealing with a vampire infestation or something, that really won't help. And don't even think about trying something daft like pulling your own tooth, whatever Grandpa might say.

Alternatives to Standard Floss - Are They Any Good?

Standard dental floss - which is basically just specially coated string - is pretty cheap and easy to find in the shops. However, since, even when they do understand the right way to use it some people skip flossing because it's too time consuming a number of products have been launched in an attempt to make flossing easier. But are they actually any good?

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One inexpensive alternative to standard floss in a box are floss sticks, or floss picks as they are also known. Lots of people do prefer these to standard floss as a lot of the measuring and guesswork is taken out of the equation and although you can only really use each pick once for hygiene reasons, making it a bit pricier to use them, the potential oral health benefits of actually flossing make the investment worth it.

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There are also several different kinds of 'mechanical flossers' on the market. Some make use of water, some make use of air and they are priced anywhere between $10 and about $75, depending on the model you choose. Some do work well, and a water flosser can be an especially good choice for those with braces or bridges, as they can remove food particles that brushes and flosses often miss. Should you make the larger investment in one of these gadgets? If you struggle to floss now but think they might change that, by all means go ahead.

The bottom line is, however you floss, you still need to do so and there's no getting out of it if you want to maintain truly healthy teeth!

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