Fear of flossing
I recently took a long-overdue trip to the dentist. And when I say overdue, I’m talking 4 or 5 years (said quickly, under my breath).
Yes, I know the importance of regular trips to the dentist to keep teeth and gums in tip top condition but I was busy – having babies (just the 2, I’m no Angelina!), moving homes, working and attempting to avoid the expense that generally comes with a trip to the dentist. But finally, I booked the appointment and what was initially intended as a quick teeth checkup turned into a family outing.
The kids (20 months and 4 years) had no idea what was going on – despite our best efforts to explain how wonderful and important the dentist is. My husband and I on the other hand were both feeling quite nervous – especially hubby as his last trip to the dentist was over 10 years ago. Yes, terrible isn’t it?
He went first up as the waiting was driving him mad and I feared if he didn’t go in first he was going to make a run for it!
My session in the dentist’s chair saw my knuckles turn white as I gripped the chair for dear life. It was at that point that I made the promise to myself that I’d never leave it so long between dentist appointments and I would become a flossing phenomenon.
Since my flossing epiphany I have chatted with many friends about how I intend to keep tartar build-up in check with the help of flossing tape. (Note: I’ve chatted about other, more engaging things too, I’m not all teeth talk you know.) And what’s emerged is a realisation that there’s a fair few people out there who are fearful of flossing. The main reasons being:
- a general fear that the flossing tape or string will damage the gums;
- fear the floss will pull out a crown; and
- a dislike of the feeling of the floss moving between the teeth.
Unfortunately, just because you don’t like doing something doesn’t mean you should avoid it – especially not when it’s related to health. Daily flossing helps remove build-up of plaque between the teeth, which in turn helps prevent bad breath and gum infections like gingivitis. If flossing isn’t part of your daily dental care regime, it’s time you gave it a go.
How to floss
- Make sure the floss is about 30-40 cm long (about arm’s length).
- Grip the floss in between your forefinger and thumb.
- Gently insert the floss between the teeth and move it backwards and forwards gently. Be careful not to force the floss between the teeth or push it down to heavily as this could result in cut gums.
- Curve the floss around the tooth and into a C-shape and slide the floss up and down the tooth two or three times. Avoid the back and forth ‘sawing action’ at this stage.
- To finish off, rinse your mouth out to get rid of any lose food particles.
If you find that flossing leaves you with cut or irritated gums, try an interdental brush. The easiest way to explain this is a metal toothpick (it’s called a brush even though it doesn’t look like your regular bristle brush) attached to an easy-to-grip handle. The brushes come in various sizes to suit the gaps between your teeth (aka interdental spaces).
Is it time to up the ante on your dental hygiene?
by Leanne Philpott