Most people know that they should brush and floss their teeth once or twice daily for good oral health. Knowing and doing are definitely not the same, though. Here are some fun facts you may not have known about flossing.
Manufacturers Made the First Floss from Silk
Today there are many floss choices. Here are some tips for choosing the one you want:
- Wide floss is better than regular for people who have bridgework or spaces between their teeth.
- Waxed floss slides between teeth that are close together most easily.
- Unwaxed floss squeaks when teeth are clean and plaque is gone.
- Bonded unwaxed floss tears more than waxed floss but much less than regular unwaxed floss.
Women Floss More than Men Do
Although more than half of Americans do not floss daily, those who do are more likely to be women. Even if you don’t have time to floss every day, occasional flossing is better than not ever flossing. (Honestly, are you really surprised? I’m not. Ladies are just cleaner.)
Waterpicks Are Not a Substitute for Floss
Waterpicks are an effective tool for removing debris that a toothbrush can’t reach, especially if you have braces. Waterpicks don’t remove plaque, though, and plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Only floss can help remove this from teeth between regular cleanings at your dentist.
Floss was Once Used by a Prisoner to Escape Prison
That prisoner braided floss into a rope to scale the wall. In 1994, a West Virginia prison inmate braided dental floss into a rope, scaled the wall, and escaped. We’re not advocating prison escape, though, so you may want to use your floss like this instead:
- Break off a piece about as long as your forearm and wind all but about four inches around one of your middle fingers.
- Wind the tail end around a finger of your other hand.
- Stretch the floss tightly with about an inch between your fingers and guide it down between your teeth using a gentle back-and-forth motion.
- At the gumline, slide the floss gently down between the gum and tooth until there is resistance.
- With the floss against the tooth, gently scrape the side of the tooth as you move the floss away from the gum line.
Floss is Your Best Weapon in the Fight Against Plaque
Plaque and food debris stick to teeth and gums and lodge between teeth, sending an open invitation to the bacteria that cause gum disease. Floss removes plaque and debris and protects your mouth from bacteria.
What are Receding Gums?
Often dubbed “long-in-the-tooth” for the appearance it gives, receding gums expose the roots of the teeth as gum tissue wears away or pulls back from the crown. Gingival recession can cause discomfort and pain when the person eats foods or drinks that are too hot or cold, sweet or sour, or even spicy. Gums may also be sore without a visible cause, and teeth can decay more easily because the roots do not have the same protective enamel as the crown. That opens the door for bacteria that can destroy the gums, teeth, and even the bones in your jaw, which could eventually lead to tooth loss.
What Causes Receding Gums?
There are many different causes of gingival recession. The main cause is actually gum disease, or periodontal disease. Bacterial gum infections cause gums to swell, bleed, and recede. They destroy the gum tissue and the supporting bone. Studies have shown that an astonishing 30 percent of the population may be prone to gum disease simply because of their genetic makeup. Still others have genes that give them a thinner gum line or more prominent roots than average, making gum recession much more likely.
Inadequately caring for your teeth by failing to brush and floss regularly causes tarter buildup on and in between teeth that will cause gum recession. Tobacco users have hard to-remove, sticky plaque that causes the same problem. Clenching or grinding the teeth (an unknown sleeping habit for many people) is an attributed cause, due to the fact that it places too much pressure on your teeth. A misaligned bite or crooked teeth may also place unnecessary strain on your teeth.
Another common cause that professionals have encountered is overly vigorous or improper brushing of the teeth. By brushing your teeth too often or with excessive force, you are most likely doing more damage than good. Aggressive brushing, especially with hard-bristled brushes, will traumatize and damage your gum tissue and even break down the teeth’s enamel.
How are Receding Gums Treated?
There are a few different ways that you can fix gum recession or avoid causing further harm. One of the ways that dentists and periodontists have found to repair severe gum loss is by doing a gum graft from another healthy part of the gums or from the roof of the mouth and placing it where the gums are the most worn away, thereby reducing the sensitivity and the further recession of the gums.
More important than correction is prevention. To prevent receding gums, you must develop good habits. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush three times a day, but not for more than the recommended two minutes. You should replace your toothbrush every three months or when the bristles are bent or damaged because a worn out toothbrush won’t clean your teeth the way they need to be and can damage your gums.
Be sure to floss regularly and use a mouthwash to help you keep your teeth and gums in better health. Staying away from cigarettes and eating a healthy diet will also strengthen your gums and help prevent gum disease.
If you recognize any of the symptoms detailed above or are worried that you are at risk for gingival recession, talk to your dentist. S/he can give you further advice and suggestions for treatment so that you can maintain your beautiful (and pain-free) smile.