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Are You A Flosser Or A Popper?

Jan 29, 2008
It's not easy. You think you know how to floss your teeth, but you really don't. And neither did I. How do I know this? I'm your dentist.

If you could look over my shoulder for just a week, you'd be completely shocked at what you see. Sometimes it's hard not to laugh when people tell me how good they are doing with their daily homecare. These are good, contentious, successful, intelligent people. They're honest but mistaken. Their mouth is full of plaque, toxins, and other debris. It's invisible to the naked eye. You don't know what you don't know.

People swear they are cleaning their teeth. They're spending a lot of time in the bathroom, but it's wasted time. Wasted because they're going through the motions, completely unaware of what they are missing. Good intentions but bad technique.

Most of the factors that cause damage to your teeth and gums are invisible without a microscope. It looks like you cleaned well, but in reality, you left a lot of bacteria, toxins, and other debris. You just didn't know it. There is a red or blue dye called disclosing solution that shows where you missed.

The first time I used disclosing solution I thought I had a defective bottle. It marked everywhere. I was embarrassed, but I learned just how deceptive looks can be. Just because I didn't see the plaque, it didn't mean it wasn't there. It's like electricity. It's invisible until you touch the wire. Then it becomes painfully obvious.

Removing plaque with floss can be done, but it's tricky. There are other simpler, more effective methods we will discuss later, but flossing and brushing are the most popular. The trick with floss is to wrap it, not pop it. After you've worked the floss between your teeth, wrap it 180 degrees around one of the teeth, then slide the floss up and down several times, tightly hugging your tooth. This will dislodge the bacteria that are stuck on that side of that tooth. Then wrap it 180 degrees around the other tooth, and do the same thing. Remember to hug that tooth tightly too.

Move on to the next space and repeat this process. Remember the last tooth and any tooth standing alone. They need your attention too.

That's not what most people do. Most people pop. Popping is when you snap the floss between your teeth, snap it out, and then move on to the next space. It gives you a false sense of accomplishment. Pat yourself on the back with an attaboy and brag to your dentist about how good you're doing. The sad truth is, you've accomplished very little. Your dentist can see the truth. What you believe has nothing to do with truth.

The last step is to flush the bacteria and toxins that you just dislodged out of your mouth. You can rinse and spit, but you're leaving most of it behind. The only way to completely clean the toxins out is with Directed Water Irrigation. This is a simple technique that will change the way you clean your teeth for the rest of your life. Learn about it.

Until then, let your popcorn do the popping, while you focus on more effective flossing.
About the Author
Charles Reinertsen, DMD, observes what works in dentistry and what doesn't. Sharing his findings will help you keep your mouth cleaner and healthier. Find out the easiest tricks for
a lifetime of healthy smiles
at http://www.ihateflossing.com
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