"Ten Whys" About the Use of Dental Floss

December 13,2021

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Everyone is no stranger to dental floss, but few people know how to use it correctly. Today I collected 10 questions about dental floss that everyone asked the most. I hope this blog can help you.


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Question 1: Why use dental floss instead of just brushing teeth and gargling?


Answer: Flossing is an important means of cleaning the gap between teeth and cannot be replaced by brushing and gargling. Even if the correct method is used and the teeth are brushed carefully, the bristles of the toothbrush cannot fully enter the adjacent position of the two teeth for effective cleaning. Brushing can only clean about 50% of the tooth surface.


Question 2: Do I have to use dental floss if I have no food impaction problem?


Answer: Use it too. Use dental floss as long as there is a gap between the teeth. Even if there is no sensation of stuffing one's teeth, there will still be food residues in the interdental space after eating food. Moreover, there are not only food residues in the interdental space, but also plaque, the culprit of disease.


Long-term retention of plaque in the interdental space can cause dental caries, gum swelling, pain, and bleeding. The location of the caries cavity on the adjacent surface of the tooth is hidden, the symptoms are not obvious, and it is not easy to be found in the early stage. Usually involving the neck of the tooth, the tooth tissue of the neck is weak, and caries at this location can easily cause dental pulp infection. Long-term retention of plaque in the interdental space can turn into dental calculus, which can easily lead to gingivitis and periodontitis.


Question 3: Will the interdental space between the teeth become larger and larger with dental floss?


Answer: The interdental space will not become larger due to the use of dental floss. The enlargement of the interdental space is caused by inflammation of the gums between the two teeth due to plaque, resorption of alveolar bone, and atrophy of the gingival papilla. If the teeth are not treated and maintained in time, they are likely to loosen or even fall out.


Long-term failure to clean the gap between the teeth will cause the gap between the two teeth to become larger and larger, causing more food debris to enter, such a vicious circle. The tooth itself has physiological mobility and its position is not fixed. Under normal circumstances, dental floss can be passed easily without causing wear on the adjacent surfaces of the teeth.


Question 4: I tried to use dental floss, but I can't put it in, what should I do?


Answer: First of all, it should be confirmed whether dental calculus is covered in the interdental space. If there is more dental calculus, it is recommended to use dental floss after the periodontal system treatment.


Secondly, whether you have chosen the floss that suits your teeth. If the teeth are tightly arranged or even crowded, choose thinner, waxed dental floss.


Finally, beginners should learn the correct method of use, practice in front of the mirror, stick to a few days will become more and more proficient.


Question 5: The interdental space between the teeth is too big, and it feels like it can’t be cleaned up with dental floss.


Answer: First, ask the doctor to rule out whether there are cavities in the interdental space. Secondly, please selectively use thicker dental floss, round dental floss, or an interdental brush.


Question 6: I’m still young, can I do without dental floss?


Answer: You can start flossing from the deciduous period (before one year old). It is more convenient for parents to use dental floss to clean children in the preschool stage.


Question 7: How many times do I need to floss every day?


Answer: For most people, it is necessary to clean all the interdental spaces thoroughly before going to bed every night. Patients with severe periodontal disease and food impaction symptoms are recommended to clean up in time after eating.


Question 8: Why does the dental floss become rough or even break when it is pulled out of some interdental spaces?


Answer: Seek medical attention as soon as possible. There may be tooth decay or dental calculus.


Question 9: Why do gums bleed when flossing?


Answer: 1. Wrong use of dental floss. Pay attention to the size and direction of the force when using it.


  1. Bloodstains on the dental floss during normal use can indicate inflammation of the gums. The location, frequency, amount of bleeding, and time to stop bleeding should be observed. If the gums bleed repeatedly, at multiple spots, or the bleeding can't stop on its own, you should go to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment in time.


  1. Don't give up flossing because of occasional bleeding at individual sites. Bleeding occurs only when the gums are inflamed. Failure to clean them in time can only aggravate the condition.


Question 10: There are too many types of dental floss on the market. How to choose the one that suits me?


Answer: First, introduce the characteristics of different dental floss. You can choose one type or several types of dental floss to use together according to your situation.


  • Monofilament (Teflon/PTFE) dental floss and multifilament (nylon) dental floss


Teflon dental floss: The cross-section is flat, relatively thin, and slippery, suitable for smaller interdental spaces.


Nylon dental floss: It is composed of several thin nylon flosses, which are divided into waxy and non-waxed dental floss. Waxed dental floss can be placed in the interdental space more smoothly. The disadvantage is that the cleaning efficiency is not as strong as that of wax-free (weak friction). If the gap between the teeth is large and the dental floss passes through the adjacent points of the teeth easily during use, wax-free dental floss can be used.


  • Round floss and flat floss


The round floss is usually nylon floss, suitable for larger interdental spaces. The flat wires are made of nylon and Teflon, which are more suitable for smaller interdental spaces.


  • Dental floss with a stick


The difference between this kind of dental floss and ordinary dental floss is that there is a hard stick at the end as a handle, so you don't need to wrap it around your hands. The floss part is also divided into thickness, wax and no wax, and round and flat wire. But it is not suitable for cleaning the posterior teeth of patients with restricted mouth or where the teeth are not aligned.


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