There is a common expression in the dental field- you only have to clean the teeth you want to keep.
Let me begin to describe what happens if one does not clean one’s teeth regularly. First, you will not have many friends. But to the point, all of us have “germs” or bacteria that live in our mouths. This is natural and not all bad. There are many kinds of bacteria- some that live on the surfaces of our teeth others that live deep under our gums near the teeth. Some bacteria when given carbohydrates to feed on (left-overs from our consumption of sugar, bread, crackers, cookies, pasta and so forth) produce a week acid. When this occurs often enough and over time the tooth dissolves and a cavity is created. This is tooth decay. Other bacteria produce an enzyme – that is a special chemical – that damages how the gums attach to the tooth and this in turn damages the bone around the teeth. This is gum disease. So the idea is to limit the exposure of food to the bacteria and to limit the bacterias.
Brushing is important and proper brushing cleans the chewing surface of the teeth and the broad inside and outside of one’s teeth. Flossing can assist in cleaning between the teeth. The bacteria are there too and hard for us to get to. It is even more important when one is undergoing orthodontic treatment (braces) or cosmetic procedures.
Flossing is not the only solution however. Toothpicks can also be effective in cleaning between one’s teeth. Another very effective tool are inter-dental cleaners or little minibrushes that can be very useful and for many people, easier to use than floss. It does not matter too much if one uses waxed floss or unwaxed floss. Waxed is usually easier to use. I suggest flossing first then brushing in that order.
Flossing is a skill. It takes some practice and for those who are just starting to acquire this wonderful habit it can be a bit sensitive to one’s gums at first. But as the teeth and gums are kept cleaner and as one becomes more regular and skilled the gums become healthier, firmer and less sensitive. Healthy gums are not sensitive, swollen and do not bleed at all. Bleeding gums are a sign of disease and ones dentist should be consulted.
Not sure on how to floss? Ask the dental hygienist; she is the specialist in this area. She is your personal trainer.