You may have read a lot of buzz in the news recently about flossing... one of the beauty tasks you've probably been told to complete since you got your first toothbrush. Well, it all started with a recent story written by the Associated Press, titled Medical Benefits of Dental Floss Unproven. The article went on to present information that argues that there's little proof or research on the benefits of flossing.
This, of course, prompted an immediate response from the world and dentists about whether or not we should really be dedicating time to it. Even the AP article ended with a statement from Tim Iafolla, a dentist with the National Institutes of Health, saying, "It's low risk, low cost. We know there's a possibility that it works, so we feel comfortable telling people to go ahead and do it."
Well, we went ahead and reached out to a few oral health experts to get their opinion on the matter, all of which agreed that flossing is a good habit to keep. They also filled us in on some things you may not know about flossing, such as the right way to hold floss, and what it can do for your mouth besides reduce odor. Check it out below.
Turns Out, There's a Right Way to Hold Floss
"Most people floss the wrong way," says NYC-based cosmetic dentist Dr.Victoria Veytsman. "Flossing isn't just moving the floss up and down between the teeth. This doesn't get the plaque off the teeth, but just removes any food debris that might be there." She says to hold the floss directly against the surface of the tooth and run the floss against the sides of your teeth as you lift it out. This helps dislodge food and plaque.
"Floss should be long enough to provide enough length to wrap around your fingers a few times and allow adequate working length," says Dr. Timothy Chase, another NYC-based cosmetic dentist. "You should also use a new section of floss for each space, so you don't carry bad bugs from one site to another."
It Can Fill You in on Old Fillings
"Flossing is a good way to see if you have fillings that are breaking down," says Dr. Chase. "If your floss starts tearing or getting caught between teeth, then there is a problem."
You May Need a Floss Alternative
"If you have wide spacing between your teeth then floss may not be the best technique for you," says Dr. Laura Sharbash, a general dentist at Seidner Dentistry & Associates. "Perhaps a rubber tipped gum pick might work better. Consult with your dental professional."
Pay Attention to Blood and Odor
"If your floss has a bad, rotten egg odor you should see your dentist, you probably have a gum infection or a cavity in that area," notes Dr. Chase. "If you bleed after flossing, and your technique is correct, you should see your dentist."