Floss the teeth you want to keep

  • Published
  • By Kenchie Manlapaz
  • 374th Medical Group
"How many times a day should I brush my teeth?" "Do I really have to floss?" "Isn't brushing enough?"  "I was on vacation and that's why I did not floss."  These are a few of the things we hear from our patient's every day in the dental clinic.  The six minutes needed to brush and floss can seem like the hardest to achieve and incorporate in our daily lifestyle.

A surgeon once told me the story of a patient he encountered.  The surgeon asked the patient if he had been flossing.  The patient replied, "I floss a lot."  The surgeon answered, "Really?  Show me how you floss?"  The patient pulled a hand full of floss from the container, rolled it up in his hands, made a big ball, put it in his mouth and chewed the floss!  "That's how I floss... and I do it every day."

Tooth brushing and flossing can seem time consuming, but we must incorporate both of them into our daily routine, just like taking a shower or shaving.  Brushing is cleaning and polishing the surfaces of our teeth.  Flossing, on the other hand, is cleaning the sides and in between our teeth where the bristles of our toothbrush can't reach.  These two practices work together.  You can't have one without the other! 

Brushing tips: Choose an appropriate size toothbrush to accommodate the size of your mouth.  A soft-bristled toothbrush is recommended to avoid harm to your gums and teeth.  Apply a pea size amount of toothpaste over the bristles and proceed to use circular motions while brushing the teeth and gums.  This should be accomplished for at least three to five minutes each time you brush; in the morning when you wake up and at night before bed.

Flossing tips: Dental Floss comes in two forms: waxed or non-waxed.  Waxed floss tends to slide easier between the teeth.  The proper flossing technique involves completely wrapping one side of a tooth at a time, pushing the floss gently down in between the teeth until it stops and sliding it up and out.  Repeat the sliding motion until everything is removed.  Repeat for each of your teeth.  This should be done at least once a day.

Just like peanut butter and jelly, Cool-aid and sugar, cereal and milk; tooth brushing and flossing work effectively when performed together.  Always remember, it only takes about six to ten minutes a day to have a healthy mouth and functional teeth.  Next time you visit the dental clinic for a cleaning, take the time to listen to the different ways of achieving a healthy mouth.