Levi Spear Parmly was a dentist in New Orleans. He is credited with inventing silken dental floss back in 1815, though it is believed that Native Americans taught Pilgrims to gnaw on sticks to create a combination toothbrush/floss for removing debris from between teeth. Flossing has come a long way over the years, with biodegradable materials now used to manufacture a variety of floss types. For all of our options, and the budget-friendly price tag of floss, still only 12 percent of Americans floss daily. Nearly 50 percent don’t floss at all. Daily flossing is essential to your oral health, and our Riverside dentists at Riverside Dental Group want to make sure we’re all on the same page.
The Space Between
Gum disease and tooth decay are both caused by plaque, a sticky biofilm of bacteria which gathers on teeth and gums. Bacteria in plaque reacts with sugars in the foods and beverages we consume. This creates lactic acid, which in turn erodes the enamel on our teeth. With the hard, protective layer of tooth enamel compromised, harmful bacteria causes cavities. Brushing your teeth twice a day is effective at removing some plaque, but there are still areas impossible for a toothbrush to clean. Floss removes food particles and plaque from between teeth and below the gum line.
How to Floss
Flossing is something you’re probably already quite capable of, but here are some simple tips to make sure your flossing experience is effective and comfortable:
- Break off an 18-inch strand of floss and wrap it between the middle fingers of each hand
- Hold floss between the thumb and forefinger and guide gently (but firmly) downward
- Gently work floss between teeth using a back and forth motion to remove germs and debris
- Curve the floss around the tooth at the gumline moving between the gums and teeth to a point of slight resistance
- Wrap used floss around fingers so you access a fresh section of thread for each tooth