Flossing

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What is flossing?

Flossing is a method for removing bacteria and other debris that cannot be reached by a toothbrush. It generally entails a very thin piece of synthetic cord you insert and move up and down between the sides of two adjoining teeth.

Why is flossing important, and how does it relate to Las Vegas?

We now know that the same bacteria once thought to be found only in the mouth actually gain access to the bloodstream and body circulation through the gums, and are associated with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even now Alzheimer's Disease. Chronic inflammatory conditions in one part of the body activate the entire immune system and make other chronic inflammatory conditions worse. In other words, unlike Las Vegas, what happens in your mouth does NOT stay in your mouth.

Many dentists and hundreds of scientific studies indicate that flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque below the gumline. Daily flossing is an excellent and proven method for complementing your brushing routine and helping to prevent cavities, periodontal disease, and other dental problems later in life. It also increases blood circulation in your gums. Floss removes plaque and debris that stick to your teeth and gums in a way no other method can.

How often to floss

Floss at least once every day. Like brushing, flossing should take about three minutes and can easily be done while doing another activity, such as watching television. Do not attempt to floss your teeth while operating a motor vehicle or other machinery.

Flossing techniques

There are two common methods for flossing, the "spool method" and the "loop method".

The spool method is the most popular for those who do not have problems with stiff joints or fingers. The spool method works like this: Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around your middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the middle finger of your other hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Move the floss between your teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Maneuver the floss UP AND DOWN (NOT sawing in and out) several times forming a "C" shape around the tooth. While doing this, make sure you go below the gum line, where bacteria are known to collect heavily.

The loop method is often effective for children or adults with dexterity problems like arthritis. The loop method works like this: Break off about 18 inches of floss and form it into a circle. Tie it securely with two or three knots. Place all of your fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through your lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going UP AND DOWN (again, NOT sawing in and out) below the gum line and forming a "C" on the side of the tooth.

With either method of flossing, never "snap" the floss through the contact point because this can cut your gums. Make sure that you gently wiggle the floss through the contact point.

Your gums may be tender or even bleed for the first few days after flossing - a condition that should heal within a few consecutive days of flossing. This is an indication that there is some low grade infection and inflammation present. By removing the bacteria causing the infection, it should resolve. If your gums continue to bleed after 2-3 days of flossing, you should see your dentist.

Note: Bleeding gums are NOT NORMAL, ever. If you saw blood in the sink after washing your hands, would you think that was normal? Probably not. Just because it has always been that way for you or other people, or just because you don't floss often is still not an indication of normality. Over 50 million Americans have gum disease. Bleeding gums are an indication of infection and inflammation.

We now know that the same bacteria once thought to be found only in the mouth actually gain access to the bloodstream and body circulation through the gums, and are associated with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even now Alzheimer's Disease. Chronic inflammatory conditions in one part of the body activate the entire immune system and make other chronic inflammatory conditions worse. In other words, unlike Las Vegas, what happens in your mouth does NOT stay in your mouth.