What You Should Know About Dental Floss
Dental floss is a thin, soft, and flexible thread made of nylon or Teflon. It helps clean food particles in between the teeth after brushing. Flossing prevents gum disease and tooth decay by removing plaque from hard-to-reach areas that are difficult to brush.
Does dental floss expire? The U.S National Library of Medicine says that dental floss does not expire. However, it can dry out over time which makes it less effective at cleaning your teeth. It is best to use new dental floss to ensure optimal cleaning and comfort.
In this post, we will discuss if dental floss expires, the history of dental floss, why you should use dental floss, how long does dental floss last, how to use dental floss properly, and alternatives to dental floss!
What is Dental Floss?
Dental floss is a thin, soft, and flexible thread made of nylon or Teflon. It helps clean food particles in between the teeth after brushing.
Flossing prevents gum disease and tooth decay by removing plaque from hard-to-reach areas that are difficult to brush.
History of Dental Floss
The history of dental floss dates back to the 17th century. In 1819, a British dentist named John Fones invented unwaxed silk thread that he called ‘catgut’ and recommended its use as a substitute for toothpicks used by many people at the time.
In 1874, New Yorker Washington Sheffield made his version of “silk-worm gut” with cotton after learning about Fones’ invention from an advertisement in Harper’s Weekly.
Unfortunately for Dr. Sheffield, Johns Hopkins filed a patent first because he had been sending samples to him since 1870!
Dr. Bradford Merrill took this idea and created string or ribbon out of manila hemp and claimed it was more than any other material due to its abrasiveness that could remove plaque.
In the 1930s, nylon was invented and proved to be more effective than silk or hemp at cleaning teeth. This led to the modern version of dental floss!
How Dental Floss Is Made
Today, dental floss is made with many synthetic fibers, but it can also be made of silk and nylon.
Most dental floss uses a wax coating to make it easier to slide between teeth. The dental floss is then cut into a 12-inch strand and put into a plastic case.
Why You Should Use Dental Floss
Dental floss is important for oral hygiene because it helps clean food particles in between the teeth after brushing.
Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth when bacteria combine with saliva.
If plaque is not removed regularly, it can harden into tartar which can only be removed by a dentist. Tartar causes gum disease and tooth decay.
Does Dental Floss Expire?
As we mentioned above, according to the U.S National Library of Medicine, there is no such thing as an expiration date when it comes to dental hygiene products including dental floss!
However, certain factors may affect how long your product lasts before you need new supplies. These factors include the following:
- How often do you use your floss
- The packaging of the dental floss
- Temperature and humidity levels in storage locations. This can affect exposure to moisture that may cause bacteria growth.
How To Use Dental Floss Properly
When you are ready to floss, start with a small piece of about 18 inches of floss. Wrap one end around the middle finger on your dominant hand until taut then wrap the other end around the same digit on your non-dominant hand until taut as well.
Next, slide both pieces of string into the space between each tooth by using a gentle sawing motion that moves toward your gum line without pressing too hard or poking gums. Make sure not to move any closer than a half-inch from the base of your gums.
Finally, pull out any extra slack and glide floss back and forth against each tooth to remove plaque that you may have missed!
Can You Reuse Dental Floss?
While it is okay to reuse dental floss, reusing can cause problems with your gum health. Once you are done using the floss on one tooth, move onto another, and then throw out that piece of floss rather than trying to clean between teeth again!
The Importance of Dental Floss
Dental floss is an important part of oral hygiene because it helps clean food particles in between the teeth after brushing.
Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth when bacteria combine with saliva and if plaque is not removed regularly, it can harden into tartar which can only be removed by a dentist.
Tartar causes gum disease and tooth decay. Using dental floss regularly can cut down on your trips to the dentist.
Benefits of Using Dental Floss
There are many benefits to using dental floss, including:
- Prevents tooth decay by removing plaque from hard-to-reach areas that are difficult to brush.
- Helps promote healthier teeth and gums by preventing gum disease caused by tartar buildup.
- Removes bits of food that can get stuck in teeth and lead to bad breath.
- Is gentle on gums – unlike metal picks or brushes which can cause gum damage if used incorrectly.
- Is affordable and easy to find at most pharmacies and grocery stores.
- Cleans deep between the teeth which help freshen breathe!
Alternatives To Dental Floss
Dental tape is a thin nylon strip with built-in wax designed for easy use by people who find dental floss difficult or annoying.
The U.S National Library of Medicine says that it can be used when brushing alone does not clean teeth well enough but should always be accompanied by daily brushing.
Electric brushes are effective at cleaning teeth. They scrub bristles over surfaces more rapidly than manual ones which make them suitable substitutes if you dislike using traditional methods like hand brushings or string flossing.
Water flossers are handheld devices that use a high-pressure stream of water to clean teeth and gums. They come with different tips for various areas of the mouth and can be used as an alternative to dental floss if you have sensitive gums.
Oral irrigators are similar to water flossers but they also include a reservoir that holds oral rinses or solutions.
This allows users to directly apply the rinse or solution to their teeth and gums which is beneficial for people with braces, implants, crowns, or other dental work.
Distilled water should always be used in oral irrigators because it does not contain any minerals or chemicals that could potentially damage your equipment. Tap water should never be used in oral irrigators!
Floss picks are small devices that look like toothpicks with a piece of floss on one end.
This makes them easier to use than traditional dental floss and is beneficial for people who have braces or other types of dental work because the individual bristles can clean around brackets and wires more effectively than string dental floss.
Other Uses for Dental Floss
There are many different uses for dental floss! Dental professionals recommend using a new piece every day after brushing or before going to bed at night. It is important not to throw away used pieces.
They still have some effectiveness leftover even if most have been removed from between teeth by normal usage. Here are just a few ways people around the world enjoy using their trusty supply of dental floss:
- To string bead necklaces or other items together
- Sewing fabric projects like a quilt
- Making a net for catching fish
- Tying two pieces of wood together to create a cross
- Cleaning between the keys on a keyboard
- Untangling earrings or chains
As you can see, dental floss is an incredibly versatile tool that has many uses! It’s important to keep some on hand in case of emergencies (or just because it’s handy!). How long your floss lasts depends on how often you use it.
If used every day, it should last around three months. If only used once a week, it could last up to six months. So make sure you stock up and keep your smile healthy and sparkling!
Dental floss is an essential part of oral care and should be used every day along with a toothbrush. It helps remove plaque and bacteria from teeth and gums, preventing gum disease and bad breath.
Dental floss is affordable, easy to find, and has many different uses. So make sure you keep some on hand in case of emergencies (or just because it’s handy!).
How long your floss lasts depends on how often you use it – if used every day, it should last around three months; if only used once a week, it could last up to six months. Keep your smile healthy and sparkling by using dental floss every day!
Do I need to use dental floss every day? Yes, the dentists at Dental Associates Near Me say that using dental floss is essential for oral care. It helps remove plaque and bacteria from teeth and gums, preventing gum disease and bad breath.
How often should I use water flossers? Water flossers are most effective when used every day. However, they can also be used multiple times a week if necessary.
Is it safe to use tap water in my oral irrigator? No, tap water should never be used in oral irrigators because it contains minerals and chemicals that could damage your equipment. Always use distilled water instead!