Healthy Smiles Premier Dental

Everyone should know by now that they need to brush thoroughly for two minutes twice a day. Flossing only needs to be done after your last meal or snack of the day, but is more complicated. Traditional string floss, waxed or unwaxed, and water flossers (aka water picks or oral irrigators) have different advantages and disadvantages.

String floss is unfortunately often not used correctly, so if you are uncertain about how to do this (or brush) ask your dental hygienist to show you. In order for it to scrape off the food particles, you can’t simply wrap it around your fingers and move it up and down between the teeth quickly, then move on to the next one, as so many do. To be sure you are scraping the sides between the teeth effectively, you should use a zigzag motion and curve the floss around the edges of the tooth to help clean surfaces brushing may have missed. Many also do not know they should be using a different part of the floss each time to avoid transferring the debris from one place to another.

All this is hard for many to do, especially in the hard-to-reach areas and if they have arthritic hands or otherwise difficulties in holding and moving the string the correct way. For these or anyone with sensitive gums or who is wearing braces or Invisalign, a water flosser can be the preferred choice, since it uses a stream of pressurized water to take out particles. This works best for larger ones than tiny bits of food or beverages.  Flossing does not work as well if cleaning hasn’t been thorough previously and the sticky bacterial film called plaque has formed (or even hardened into tartar), according to the Mayo Clinic.

OralB argues that its water flosser does a much better job at removing plaque from tooth surfaces in general than a toothbrush, while Waterpik claims a clinical study showed its product was found 29% better at removing plaque than string floss. The results will depend on how high you set the pressure and your technique, of course. Better than one or the other would be to use both string and water flossing after brushing, especially if you have had recurring periodontal (gum) disease.

But no matter how much effort you put into brushing and flossing, you should still have your dental hygienist do a professional cleaning twice a year. They have the training, special tools, and antibacterial solutions to do a much better job than you can do for yourself. They may recommend more frequent visits to have this done or adding a dentist-grade periodontal mouthwash to improve your overall oral health.