You may not realize it, but even when your mouth is clean, it's
full of bacteria. These naturally occurring microorganisms like
to eat even the most minute leftover food particles, after which
they deposit a sticky residue on the teeth called 'plaque'. Of course,
this substance accumulates throughout the day, especially in places
where toothbrushes can't reach. Left to harden into tartar, plaque
build-up irritates your gums and can trigger inflammation and gum
disease. Sound like a nasty situation? It doesn't have to be. In
fact, you can virtually eliminate all such plaque by carefully brushing
and properly flossing, every day.
It's really that simple: your toothbrush cleans the tops and sides
of your teeth, while the floss cleans between them, actually polishes
your tooth surfaces and controls bad breath. So, in just an extra
two or three minutes, you've taken a giant step in the war against
those bad bacteria.
Correct flossing is a fairly easy thing to learn: either via the
spool method, if you're quite dexterous, or via the loop method
if you're less nimble with your fingers. To use the spool method,
simply pull off about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it lightly
around your middle finger. Don't pull tightly, and cut off your
circulation! Then, wind the remaining floss around your other hand's
middle finger, to take up the used floss as you go. Now, push the
floss in between your teeth using your index fingers and thumbs.
Gently bring the floss up and down several times around both sides
of each tooth, making sure to reach below the gum line, forming
a 'C' around each tooth with the floss. Pull or push it against
your gums carefully, so that you don't hurt them; avoid rubbing
it from side to side.
To use the loop method, pull off an 18-inch strand of floss, then
make it into a circle. Tie the circle with three secure knots, placing
all of your fingers (not your thumb) within the loop. Next, use
your index fingers to direct the floss through your lower teeth,
and your thumbs to direct it through your upper teeth. Again, be
sure to clean below the gum line, and make the floss form a 'C'
around the sides of each tooth.
If you're not especially skilled with your hands, or if you have
to floss someone else's teeth for them, you may even want to consider
a pre-threaded 'flosser' or floss holder.
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