When it comes to taking care of our mouths, we’ve been taught wrong all along. Since childhood, we have been told to brush our teeth twice a day for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice — roughly two minutes. This just isn’t long enough, and as we get older, most of us spend even less time than this. We squirt some toothpaste onto our brushes, give them a swish around our mouths, and rush out the door. And spending so little time on brushing, it goes without saying that most of us don’t even bother to floss.
So, is flossing really necessary? And what exactly is required when it comes to taking proper care of our teeth?
Is flossing really necessary?
Flossing is an excellent way to eliminate the buildup of plaque, bacteria, and food particles that accumulate between our teeth. However, we have to floss our teeth properly to achieve this. When most people floss, they simply insert the string between their teeth and pop it out again. This method isn’t cleaning your teeth and, in reality, it wastes dental floss and your time.
Instead, after inserting the floss between your teeth, wrap it around the tooth 180 degrees. Then, gently move the floss up and down a few times. You must do this to every tooth. While it will take more time than the “popping” technique, it will keep the hard-to-reach areas between your teeth clean and free from debris.
Are there flossing alternatives?
The goal is to remove the bacteria stuck on your teeth (plaque) without damaging your teeth or gums. You can use water irrigation — a water jet (Water Pik, Sonicare AirFloss, or similar) directed between your teeth — to achieve the same effect. There are also small brushes that fit between your teeth to remove food particles and plaque.
How can I practice good oral hygiene?
It has become commonplace to brush our teeth every morning and night, and we emphasize the frequency of cleaning over quality.
However, Dr. Chuck Reinertsen, Founder of The Dental Medical Convergence, recommends we shift our focus and take the necessary time to thoroughly clean each tooth. While this won’t be a quick process, he says it will yield cleaner results and eliminate the need for cleaning multiple times a day — unless, of course, you feel inclined to do so!
Once a day, Dr. Chuck says to set aside 10 minutes to clean your teeth. Brush every surface, floss using dental floss or a water flosser, and rinse with a fluoride-enhanced mouthwash. Pay attention to the back, front, and sides of each tooth, and concentrate on eliminating every bit of plaque and food debris.
You can check how clean your teeth are with a disclosing solution. The solution contains a harmless dye that adheres to plaque to show what’s left behind, even after a dedicated brushing.
The key to productive oral hygiene is quality, not quantity. It’s essential that you make your mouth a priority and invest the time required to keep it clean. A healthy mouth means your entire body will stay healthier, so the time you invest in cleaning it will be well spent.