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Dentist in Brookline, MA discusses how to avoid common flossing mistakes

Holistic dentist in Brookline MA, Dr. Kovtun, emphasizes education and discusses how to avoid common mistakes for effective flossing

Flossing and brushing should go hand in hand. Floss removes what your toothbrush can’t. If you don’t floss, you’ll miss more than one-third of each tooth’s surface. That’s a lot of decay-producing bacteria and plaque left behind! If you floss every day, you’re off to a great start. As a holistic practice, Alpha Plus Dental Center empowers patients with accurate knowledge that helps to maintain oral and overall health. Dr. Kovtun and his team emphasize it’s not enough to just floss. Technique matters to effectively remove germs and plaque.

Your trusted dentist in Brookline MA discusses how to avoid common flossing mistakes for a beautiful smile and better health.

Mistake No. 1: Sporadic flossing

It’s often said the most thorough cleaning you’ll ever give your teeth and gums occurs two times each year: right before every six-month check-up! This is problematic, because that destructive plaque film hardens every 24 to 36 hours. When allowed to harden, plaque becomes tartar that can only be removed at the dentist’s office by professionals with specialized instruments. If you make a habit of flossing at least once a day, plaque doesn’t have a chance to harden.

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Mistake No. 2: Aggressive Flossing

The most effective flossing is thorough, diligent, and gentle. Take great care to avoid snapping or popping the floss between your teeth. Aggressively guiding the floss between and against the tooth surface and under the gum-line, can damage delicate gum tissue, such as cutting the attachment between the gums and the teeth. It can also trigger sensitivity-related discomfort. Instead, when you floss, think about gently rubbing the floss up and down against the sides of your teeth.

Flossing and brushing should go hand in hand.

Mistake No. 3: Not using enough!

Use at least 18 inches of floss every time you clean your teeth. That may sound like a lot, but it’s important to have enough floss that, every time you clean a new tooth, you have a fresh segment. That way, the floss is clean and free of any food debris before you move on to flossing the next tooth. Otherwise, you’re spreading around an awful lot of bacteria. The key is to loosen the plaque and adequately remove it from your mouth rather than relocating it and harmful germs to other areas in your mouth.

Mistake No. 4: Impatience

If you’re not flossing both sides of the tooth, as well as the back of teeth and behind and around the molars, you’re not using floss effectively. Take care to clean every part of the tooth that can harbor bacteria and food debris. You may be running through the process, thinking that flossing up and down between each tooth is sufficient. Think instead about spending time on all sides of each tooth.

Mistake No. 5: Not using the right product

Don’t use fingernails, paperclips, or other sharp items that are not intended for oral care to clean between and around teeth.

Don’t use fingernails, paperclips, or other sharp items that are not intended for oral care to clean between and around teeth. These objects can gouge the gums and cause irritation and damage, and toothpicks may even break off and become stuck between teeth. Both waxed and unwaxed products are appropriate; however, you may have special characteristics or needs and benefit from specialized products. For example, if you or a loved one have arthritis and other conditions that can make manipulating the floss difficult, an electric flosser can be an excellent investment. Patients with orthodontia such as braces, or restorations such as dental bridges that result in tight spaces between teeth, may benefit from other types of products, including:

  • Super floss – Made from a yarn-like material, it’s stiffer to properly clean around braces and bridges.
  • Dental tape – Broader and flatter, in both waxed and unwaxed options, it may be more comfortable than standard floss for patients with gaps and excess space between their teeth.
  • Disposable flossers or picks – Little ones are among those patients that may be able to more effectively floss with these handheld tools. Dr. Kovtun and his team may recommend this option if you’re having a difficult time cleaning appropriately with long strands of floss. Picks may be especially effective for hard-to-reach back teeth, and they come in fun designs and child-friendly sizes suited to the littlest patients.

Bring your questions about flossing and oral care to the next check-up at Alpha Plus Dental Center. If you haven’t scheduled your next appointment, call (617) 277-6360 .


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I get my teeth cleaned here every 6 months; surprisingly it's done by a dentist and not a hygienist. I have also gotten fillings done here on a couple of teeth. I had a sensitive tooth and got a fluoride treatment once. All top notch work! Friendly & chatty dentists and front office staff.

Most importantly, I got my wisdom teeth extractions done here. No swelling, almost no pain - quick & easy. And a tooth was impacted!

I have good insurance so my out of pocket is very low, hence I cannot comment on the cost. I highly recommend this office. It's in a nice clean safe neighborhood. Stop by at Trader Joes on your way home.
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