Trapped Food? – Use Dental Floss!

Leaving food trapped between your teeth is asking for trouble….

dentist examinationMost of our Clapham patients, we hope, clean their teeth twice a day and also do so effectively. If we do this and avoid eating too much sugary food, we probably think that we are looking after our teeth well. Although this is a good start, keeping your teeth and gums really clean requires an extra step to be fully effective.

Sugars and bacteria not only get stuck to the enamel surface of the tooth but also in the spaces between them. These are much more difficult to remove and if you only brush, there is likely to be food debris and harmful bacteria remaining in between your teeth. Over time, this will start to lead to both tooth decay and gum disease.

The tooth pick option

We know that some people do use toothpicks when they get food stuck between their teeth. These do serve a purpose in removing larger pieces of food that get trapped. As far as your oral health goes though, they do very little to help. The reality is that larger pieces of trapped food may be annoying and also visible, but they usually work loose due to saliva flow after a short period of time. What is more problematic are the tiny pieces that you can’t see that become trapped and a tooth pick will not be effective in removing these.

Dental floss

It is thought that only around one in five of us use dental floss on a regular basis. The reasons for this are unclear but probably include ‘difficulty’ as one of them. It is probably fair to say that most of us find it a little tricky when we first attempt to do it, and may well quickly give up. A little perseverance with it however, can make a real difference to the health of your teeth and gums.

We do encourage any patient of the Confidental Clinic to let us know if you do struggle to use floss. We are always happy to give you a quick demonstration of how to do it correctly. It really isn’t difficult, with a little practice and only takes a few minutes each day.

The consequences

Without flossing between your teeth, as long as you brush well and eat a reasonably tooth friendly diet, your mouth may feel fresh and problem free. Those tiny pieces of food that become trapped though, will be causing damage in areas that you often can’t see.

As the pieces of food break down, they turn into sugars and acids that erode the enamel of the teeth. Where this becomes damaged, bacteria are able to eat into the inner part of the tooth, leading to decay and potentially, root canal infections.

Gum disease may also occur, with sore and bleeding gums, as well as smelly breath, being possible consequences. If allowed to advance undetected, tooth loss may also occur as the supporting bone starts to become affected.

Thorough, professional oral health support

Although dentists do check teeth for problems and restore them when possible, we also play an important role in preventive care.  We are able to spot issues as they arise early and, where possible, advise the patient on what to do to reverse the problem.

For really thorough oral health care, we also strongly recommend that everybody sees a dental hygienist at our Clapham practice. Even with the best home care, including regular flossing, most of us will still get some bacterial buildup on our teeth and gum line. This is likely to occur in areas that are difficult to reach when brushing etc. As this build up grows, it forms a rough surface which attract more bacteria and increases the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis.

This hardened material, known as tartar, can only be removed by a procedure called a ‘scale and polish’. This is a non invasive procedure that will help to improve your oral health. In addition to this, appointments with the hygienist are an excellent opportunity to discuss better ways of looking after your teeth and gums. They will also be able to demonstrate how to use floss if you are finding it difficult. In situations where it may be almost impossible, such as for patients who have arthritis in the hands, they may be able to offer alternative suggestions to help you clean in the spaces between your teeth.

Your oral health is important and we are here to help you keep it in good health. Our Clapham dental and hygienist team are always happy to help our patients restore their mouths to a healthier condition. Appointments for either can be made by calling the Confidental Clinic on 020 7801 9060.