Mistakes to Avoid When Using Traditional String Floss
Flossing is a critical part of a complete oral health routine. While simply doing it is better than nothing, to derive the full benefit of flossing, you want to ensure you're doing it correctly. To understand the proper technique, let's first take a look at the 5 most common mistakes that we make while flossing.
1. We don't floss often enough
The tooth enamel between two teeth is the most robust enamel there is, and it is generally perfectly smooth. So, why are cavities that occur between the teeth the most commonly diagnosed cavities if the enamel in this area is the least susceptible to decay? Because generally, the food, plaque, and bacteria that cause cavities are left undisturbed between the teeth for extended periods. I always recommend that my patients floss twice a day; once in the morning and again right before bed. But if you're only going to floss once daily, it's best to do it right before bed. As you sleep, your saliva flow slows significantly, creating the perfect environment for bacteria to feed on any food or debris not removed by brushing and flossing. This bacteria, in turn, excrete waste that destroys our tooth structure. If you're only flossing a couple of times a week, that leaves plenty of time between flossings for bacteria to cause the all-too-common interproximal cavities.
2. We brush before we floss
Now, as a dentist, I will not get too picky if my patient is brushing and flossing each day. I'm so elated at news like that that I'm the last person that will suggest that they change up their routine. That being said, you'd be surprised how often I get asked if it is better to brush or floss first. There are several theories on this, but after looking at all of the research, I am convinced that it is best to floss and then brush. This is for two reasons. One, by brushing after you floss, your toothbrush can sweep away the debris, plaque, and bacteria that your floss broke loose. And two, one of the main benefits of brushing your teeth is that the toothbrush delivers the fluoride or hydroxyapatite in your toothpaste directly to the tooth's surface. If you haven't flossed yet, the plaque in between your teeth acts as a barrier to prevent these vital elements from strengthening and remineralizing your enamel.
3. We use toxic floss
Several flossing products have harmful chemicals, most concerning being PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances). These "forever chemicals" have been linked to reproductive problems, birth defects, testicular cancer, and many other diseases. A recent study found that as many as a third of the flosses on the market contained varying levels of PFAS. The worst was Oral-B Glide floss, of which 25% of its makeup is PFAS. So, even though it is nice that Glide floss slips right through your tight tooth contacts, it turns out that the ingredient that makes it "slippery" is the same ingredient that could be doing significant damage to your overall health.
4. We just pop the floss in and out of our contacts
While going from tooth to tooth popping the floss in and out of your contacts may do a little good for your oral health, studies show that that technique isn't doing much to prevent cavities and gum disease between your teeth. To derive the maximum benefit from flossing, you want to use woven, non-waxed floss. This floss has been proven more effective at grabbing and removing harmful bacteria between teeth. Once you pass that floss between your teeth, you want to wrap the floss around one tooth (creating a "c-shape") and then slide the floss up and down the tooth surface, working the floss all the way under the gumline. Once you're done cleaning one tooth, you reverse the c-shape to hug the adjacent tooth and again work the floss under the gumline. This technique will ensure that you disrupt the maximum amount of bacteria between your teeth, helping to prevent cavities and gum disease.
5. We stop flossing when our gums are tender or bleeding
Bleeding gums indicate that you need to floss more, not less. When your gums are inflamed due to bacteria being trapped under the gumline, the small capillary blood vessels in your gums dilate. This results in two concerning outcomes. One, bacteria from your mouth can enter your bloodstream and cause damage to your heart, lungs, and brain. And two, the slightest insult to your gum tissue (like from floss) causes the gums to bleed, sometimes profusely. Whenever a friend or family member tells me that their gums are bleeding, I always recommend two things. First, set an appointment for a cleaning and exam at your dentist. You may have hardened tartar trapped under your gums that can only be removed with the specialized instruments that your hygienist has at her disposal. And second, set a goal to floss every day for at least three weeks. You will quickly notice that the bleeding decreases every day. If your tissue is sore after flossing, you can do a warm salt water rinse to soothe the tissue and repel bacteria.
Okay, so now that we have illustrated what you're not supposed to do, let's talk about how the Slate Electric Flosser not only makes flossing easier but also much more effective than traditional string floss.
The 12,000 sonic vibrations of the Slate Electric Flosser help the toxin-free woven floss pass through tight contacts with ease. Once the floss is through the contact, you can give a gentle pull on the handle (which hugs the floss to the front tooth) and work the floss up and down under the gumline. Then, by giving a gentle push on the handle, you can slide the floss up and down the back tooth.
For an added cleaning layer, you can gently move the floss head from tongue to cheek, which slides our patented Gum Sweeps between your teeth to massage your gums at the perfect angle while simultaneously sweeping under the tooth contact where cavities like to occur.
Finally, once you're done flossing, you can flip the floss head over to utilize our three-tiered tongue scraper to clean the area of your mouth that harbors the most significant amount of bacteria. You will quickly become addicted to the level of clean that the Slate Electric Flosser produces and you won't want a day to pass without picking it up.