Daily tooth cleaning is the be-all and end-all for a radiant and healthy smile. But did you know that only 70 percent of the tooth surface is cleaned when you brush your teeth? The remaining 30 percent make up the spaces between your teeth that are difficult to access.
It is here that food residues and bacteria are preferably deposited. They are therefore particularly susceptible to caries, gingivitis and periodontists. In order to avoid such diseases, you should therefore thoroughly clean those areas where neither electric nor conventional toothbrushes can reach. One possibility: the use of dental floss.
Good old dental floss: Does it help or does it not help? What types of dental floss are available? What should I bear in mind when using it? And are there sensible alternatives for cleaning the hard-to-reach interdental spaces? Here you will find the right answers to these questions.
The use of dental floss: How necessary is it really?
In fact, it is controversial whether dental floss should be the method of choice to improve oral hygiene. There are only a few studies on effectiveness and the available results are not comprehensive enough.
Christof Dörfer from the University of Kiel and President of the German Society for Periodontology (the German term for the study of the periodontium) explicitly recommends the cleaning of interdental spaces in an interview with “Spiegel Online”. Because despite the confused state of the studies, it has been proven that the cleaning of the interdental spaces is effective: Dental illnesses are strongly declining due to a better prophylaxis for years.
Let’s start all over again: insufficient cleaning of the difficult to access interdental spaces is one of the main causes of dental diseases. Bacteria can multiply undisturbed. They feed on the remaining food residues and process them into a tough coating that adheres to the teeth. The bacterial plaque is an ideal breeding ground for caries. In addition to acid, the germs also excrete aggressive metabolic products and toxins (toxins).
If these penetrate the gums over time, a superficial gum inflammation (gingivitis) can occur. If left untreated, this leads to gum pockets, which detach the gums from the tooth. The bacteria now also penetrate between the teeth and tissue and settle in the deep, no longer accessible gum pockets. Jaw bone and tissue are affected and can be destroyed.
The possible consequence: An inflammation of the entire periodontium (periodontitis), which requires lifelong control. In the worst case there is a risk of tooth loss. In other words, the spaces between the teeth must be cleaned – and this is easiest to do with dental floss in everyday life.
The most important dental floss variants at a glance
In the trade there are different types of dental floss to buy. They all have the same purpose, but fulfill it in different ways:
Waxed dental floss
The thin wax film on the dental floss makes it particularly easy to thread. The gliding properties are also optimal. This makes cleaning much easier for people with particularly narrow teeth. The catch: The coating can cause wax to stick to the tooth and promote the future adhesion of plaque.
Unwaxed dental floss
Unwaxed dental floss has the advantage that it fibres during application. It therefore spreads and cleans particularly thoroughly.
Dental floss with fluoride
Some manufacturers advertise with additional active ingredients such as a fluoride coating. However, the concentration of the active ingredient is usually too low to achieve an actual effect. It is better to use a good toothpaste with sufficient fluoride.
Dental floss for people with dental superstructures such as bridges and implants.
These are mostly shorter, pre-cut pieces of dental floss with three components: A threading aid, a fluffy middle section and a section of regular dental floss. This structure allows thorough cleaning, especially of braces, bridges and implants.
The right technique for the application of dental floss
There are different ways you can use dental floss. We will introduce you to the two most common ways in which you can prepare yourself tooth for tooth:
The winding technique
- Cut off an approx. 50 cm long piece of dental floss.
- Wrap both ends around your middle finger until a piece about 10 cm long remains between your hands. Place the tensioned dental floss over your thumbs. They serve as guiding elements in the following. The floss should be shortened to approx. 2 cm.
- Insert the middle of the tensioned dental floss into the first interdental space. Place the floss U-shaped around one of the two teeth to cover as much surface as possible. Apply horizontal “sawing movements” – this will make it easier for the floss to glide through even narrow entry points. Now move the floss both horizontally and vertically and “scrape” the tooth side so clean. Carefully walk from the point of contact (the point where two teeth touch) to the gum line.
- Repeat for the other tooth.
- Move the floss out of the interdental space with horizontal sawing movements.
- Wind or shift the floss a little further on your middle fingers. So when cleaning the next interdental space a piece of clean dental floss is used again.
Tip: Be careful not to exert too much pressure with this technique. This could injure your gums.