Just as brushing addresses the front and back of the teeth, flossing addresses the sides. The objective is not just to remove tiny food particles on which the plaque bacteria can feed. Flossing is mainly for mechanically scraping the microscopic clusters of plaque-producing bacteria from the surface of the tooth, before they can get organized enough as bacterial colonies to “glue” calcified tartar onto the lower parts of the tooth near the gums. . Slowly guide the floss between the teeth, pull so that it wraps around one side of a tooth and rub the floss up and down the tooth surface right down to the gum margin. Many people floss the parts of their teeth away from the gums, but the bacteria and plaque like to nestle in the crevices of the gum margin, so flossing into the margin is critical. Don’t move the floss back and forth like a saw, as that would hurt the sensitive gums. Don’t let the floss snap into place between the teeth, like a bow string being released, as that can also injure the gums.
Most people floss with just a dry piece of floss. But just as with brushing the front and back of the teeth, the mechanical break up of plaque on the sides can be complemented by substances that are cleansing (baking soda and salt), acid-neutralizing (baking soda), antiseptic (cranberry, and peppermint), soothing (peppermint and myrrh), or a nutrient for cell growth (Vitamin-C). You may find that you like the result of flossing with substances such as these that come as a quickly-dissolving powder. Even so, the proper flossing technique for effective plaque disruption is the most important factor, and inadequate flossing can’t be offset by the use of even the best natural substances. If you’re going to floss with natural substances, it’s best not to brush with toothpaste beforehand, as it tends to leave a film of residue that acts as a barrier to the natural substances.
Flossing with Good-Gums
Place a tiny bit of Good-Gums about the diameter of a pencil eraser in the dry palm of a hand. Put the powder in your mouth. As it quickly dissolves, swirl the thin liquid solution to one side of your mouth, over either the upper teeth or the lower. Try to hold the solution in your mouth, at least until after you’ve flossed that quadrant. If your flossing transports the liquid solution into the margins of the gums, the floss will be in position to do the most good. It’s the action of rubbing floss against a tooth right down to the gum margin that removes the plaque, not just getting the floss between the teeth or flossing tooth surface away from the gums. Change to a clean section of floss several times, changing for every tooth or even for each side of a tooth after flossing an area where there’s pronounced gum infection. When done flossing one quadrant, repeat with a bit more powder for each of the remaining three quadrants.
If you haven’t flossed for a while, you may experience bleeding from your gums. Typically that means that the bleeding area of your gums is inflamed, which will usually go away after daily gentle flossing. If the bleeding persists after flossing for several days, consider seeing your dentist.
In some cases, more than flossing is desirable to improve the gums between the teeth. Interdental cleaning can further stimulate and clean the side surfaces (interproximal surfaces) where the brush can’t reach. There is no doubt that the benefits of flossing are great.