Tell-tale signs you’re not flossing enough – from bad breath to puffy gums

Tell-tale signs you’re not flossing enough – from bad breath to puffy gums

Regularly brushing and cleaning your teeth to prevent tooth decay was a lesson many of us learnt from a young age – so why do only 31 percent of Brits floss on a daily basis?

We all know that good oral hygiene ensures the removal of plaque, which is the primary cause for tooth decay and gum disease.

According to health experts, your daily oral routine should include a thorough brushing that lasts for two minutes, at least twice a day.

Flossing should also be incorporated too, as dental floss cleans the small gaps and tight spaces that your toothbrush cannot reach.

Dental floss can catch food debris as well as sugars and acids from drinks that can contribute towards poor oral health.

Anna Middleton, London Hygienist at Chelsea Dental Clinic says: “ Brushing only cleans three out of the five teeth surfaces; that’s why you need to floss.

“If you floss and don’t brush, you’re then only covering two of the teeth’s surfaces.”

The dental expert has revealed the grim signs that prove you’re not a flosser, these include:

  • Visibly red and inflamed gums
  • Puffy looking gums
  • Bad breath
  • Visible plaque along the gum line and in between teeth. This is often a yellow and creamy colour

Most people can’t be bothered or simply forget to include flossing into their daily routine, but Anna warns this isn’t a good idea as you could end up with “tooth loss”.

She said: “Not flossing over time can also cause gaps between the teeth and recesses in the gums, making teeth appear long.

“Gum disease isn’t just about the gums, it’s also about the bone.”

Anna explains that the gum tries to move away from the plaque and the irritant (such as food), so does the bone, which can lead to tooth loss.

“Early signs of gum disease are red, bleeding puffy gums. This is gingivitis and it is treatable.

“When it starts to progress though, and you get gum and bone damage, that’s what we call periodontitis and that’s irreversible,” says Anna.

However, you can stop periodontitis from progressing any further.

The correct floss for your teeth
Finding the correct floss for your teeth can be difficult as there are plenty of products on the market.

Anna recommends: “If you have space between the teeth, use the interdental brushes.

“People who have good technique can use floss, or if your teeth are too tight, use string floss or floss sticks.”

She added: “If you really don’t want to floss, try a water flosser. They can be helpful, but it’s not the gold standard.”

The best way to floss
The correct way to floss involves a gentle sawing action to let the floss slip through the teeth.

Wrap the floss in a tight c-shape against one side of the tooth surface, move it up and down below the gum a little, then pull and repeat on the other side.

“You need to create a bit of friction to remove the plaque as that’s where it is hiding,” says Anna.

The hygienist warns that meat can often get lodged between teeth, while dried fruit can easily get struck in the fissures in the teeth.

Keep cleaning if you spot blood
Anna claims the best time to floss is before bed, and a couple of times a week is better than nothing.

She said: “The most important thing is don’t ignore bleeding. People floss, see blood, and stop. If it’s bleeding, keep cleaning.”

Many people become alarmed at the sight of blood, but this is often because food is stuck between your teeth and needs to come out.

But if bleeding persists after a couple of days, you are advised to book a dentist appointment.

The best way to brush
Anna recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes at a time.

The dental expert said: “If you’ve had something acidic for breakfast, you want the fluoride from your toothpaste floating around in your mouth as it protects the teeth. So in these cases, brush before.

“I just have coffee and porridge so I brush my teeth after breakfast,” she adds.

“If you brush then eat, you can use mouthwash.

“Alcohol can have a drying effect which disrupts the pH and increases the risk of decay so opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash.”

Anna added: “The most important thing is to brush along the gum line and be mindful you’ve covered every bit of teeth and gum.

“Manual brushes should clean one or two teeth at a time, softly. If you’re using an electric brush, let the brush glide over the teeth gently.”