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The truth about brushing & flossing

19 April, 2024

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When your parents or dentist talk to you about brushing and flossing, your immediate (sort of natural) reaction is “Urghhh… really? 😒” But the realty is cruel and simple:

You brush & floss – you keep your teeth. 😁👍

You don’t brush & floss… guess what happens? 🙊👎

Patients always ask me “Should I floss? When should I floss? Is it that important to floss?”

I thought I would give you a few tips and hints to really keep it simple. YES, you should floss. Most patients think: “Oh, I don’t like to floss, it hurts. It makes me bleed. I don’t do that often”. It’s not something they’re comfortable doing, but you should floss because:

  1. it stops you getting cavities between your teeth.
  2. it prevents you from getting holes in your teeth.
  3. it prevents you from needing dentistry in the future & getting toothache.
  4. it is good for your gums (prevents gum disease).

The reason we floss is because you cannot get a toothbrush between your teeth, no matter how hard you try. If your teeth are really tight together a toothbrush will never ever clean there. Floss will go between your teeth and actually clean those parts of your teeth. But if you don’t floss for two years, then those parts of your teeth are going to be dirty for two years. So yes, it is important to do that.

What is the correct way to floss?

The way that most of my patients floss is wrong. Flossing is nothing you should be sewing back and forth. It’s something to do once a day. Do it before you go to bed because we normally have a little bit more time then. We are all rushing in the morning, trying to go to work, have breakfast, etc.

If your teeth are really tight together a toothbrush will never ever clean there

Try to get a nice, thin bit of satin tape floss, wrap it around your fingers and just click it in and click it out. And that is it. Next gap. No sewing back and forth. Make sure you do in the mirror to see what you’re doing – it is not that easy sometimes on the back teeth. If you get it stuck or you panic, just let it go and pull it out the side.

These are my couple of tips for flossing: once a day, just before bed. You should do it because it will stop a lot of problems and it will keep your teeth for longer. I would suggest using satin tape by Oral B, which is a nice, thin tape floss, it’s not wax. You can buy a wax version, but this one is nice and thin and it just glides between your teeth. If it does snap, it snaps clean and you don’t have to worry about getting bits between the teeth. It comes in a nice little green and blue box and it only costs a couple of pounds.

 Is mouthwash necessary?

Another thing that patients might ask me about is: “Should I use mouthwash and floss?” Mouthwashing is usually used to give your breath a fresh feeling, so it’s not necessarily important nor has to be used every day. I would definitely recommend you brush first thing in the morning and in the evening as well, ideally using an electric toothbrush and floss once a day just before bed (just before you brush your teeth).

If you wanted to use mouthwash you can, but maybe use it at lunchtime instead because that way you’ll get fluoride on your teeth for the morning, in the evening and at lunchtime. Or if you want it for fresh breath you can, but it’s not necessarily needed.

What type of toothbrush is best to use?

A lot of patients also ask me about tooth brushing and what toothbrush to use.

I would recommend an electric toothbrush every time. The one made by Oral B, which had a small little round electric toothbrush head. Use it once in the morning for two minutes and once in the evening for another two minutes. Make sure you really get the toothbrush around your gum margins as well as the teeth. There’s a lot to brush, not just the teeth. The reason I like that brand is because the toothbrush head is very small, so you can just walk it around everywhere around the teeth. You can also get your wisdom teeth easily cleaned as well.

That is probably my best advice when it comes to tooth brushing, how to brush your teeth and how to look after your mouth. Or to sum it all up – don’t worry about brushing and flossing all your teeth! Only the ones you want to keep! 😆



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