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Life is busy and finding time to floss every day is tough, but daily flossing is crucial to maintaining oral health. Not only does flossing remove harmful bacteria and strengthen gums, it also protects your smile and helps prevent cavities.
The cracks between your teeth are the perfect environment for bad breath and disease-causing tartar and plaque. Left unchecked, the gums can become inflamed, leading to gum disease and potentially even losing your teeth.
Here are some flossing tools to help make the process less of a chore.
Dental floss is a thin thread which you can use between your teeth to help remove plaque and stuck food. Floss helps you reach the tough spots inaccessible by your toothbrush alone. While regular floss works great, advances in floss make keeping your teeth clean more fun. At our practice, floss comes in yummy flavours, such as strawberry, coconut, vanilla bean, orange, peppermint, and mint. Patients get a free floss with every dental checkup and cleaning.
Floss picks are little plastic picks with a short floss string attached between them. Some people find it easier to get inside the mouth and maneuver between each tooth using floss sticks instead of regular floss. Floss picks are especially great for children, who often lack the dexterity necessary to use traditional floss effectively.
A 2004 study found floss picks are just as effective at promoting gum health as traditional dental floss when used regularly and correctly.1 In this study, researchers found similarly reduced plaque scores with no significant difference between those who used regular floss and those who used floss picks.
Water flossers are a more recent invention, with Waterpik being the most recognizable brand. Water flossers, another interdental cleaning device, clean between the teeth and below the gum line. They use pulsating water to remove food debris and plaque. Clinical studies of Waterpik found it was “up to 50 per cent more effective for reducing gingivitis and up to 29 per cent more effective at removing plaque as compared to string floss.”2,3
Brush twice and floss at least once daily. Make flossing part of your regular routine and you’ll notice a big difference next time you’re in for your checkup and cleaning!
- Dr. William Chin
About Dr. William Chin
Dr. William Chin is a general dentist and the owner of Norwood Dental Centre. He is committed to providing caring, quality dental care that meets individual needs and budgets. Learn more about Norwood Dental Centre at www.norwood-dental.ca.
Norwood Dental Centre is accepting new patients! Call us at 780-474-2456 to schedule an appointment today. We’d love to welcome you to our practice!
1 W Lewis, Maurice & Holder-Ballard, Cassandra & J Selders, Robert & Scarbecz, Mark & G Johnson, Howard & W Turner, Edgar. (2004). Comparison of the Use of a Toothpick Holder to Dental Floss in Improvement of Gingival Health in Humans. Journal of Periodontology. 75. 551-6. 10.1902/jop.2004.75.4.551.
2 Goyal CR, et al. J Clin Dent. (2013). Comparison of Two Interdental Devices on the Reduction of Plaque. Study conducted at BioSci Research Canada Ltd.; Mississauga, Ontario.
3 Barnes CM, et al. J Clin Dent. (2005). Comparison of Irrigation to Floss as an Adjunct to Toothbrushing: Effect on Bleeding, Gingivitis, and Supragingival Plaque. Study conducted at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, College of Dentistry; Lincoln, Nebraska.
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DR. WILLIAM CHIN
Parents play an important role in setting their child up for a lifetime of positive oral health. The Canadian Dental Association recommends a dentist assessing your child within six months of their first tooth erupting or by your child’s first birthday, whichever comes first.
Why so young? The goal of the first dental visit is to get your child comfortable with dental professionals and to identify any issues with your child’s teeth before they become problems.
Many dental offices, including my practice, offer no-charge Happy Visits. The purpose of the Happy Visit is to ensure your child is relaxed and at ease at the dentist.
During Happy Visits at Norwood Dental Centre, we give your child a spin in our cool dental chair, count their teeth and look for any issues, and show your child our dental gadgets, such as the air/water syringe and the suction (a.k.a. Mr. Thirsty!). From there, the child receives a take-home hygiene kit and gets to pick a toy from our toy treasure chest. The more interested your child becomes in his or her dental care, the better chance of great oral hygiene!
Happy Visits are also important for mom and dad, as they allow time to discuss any dental issues I’ve seen as well as any questions you, as a parent, may have.
The First Check-Up and Cleaning
Once your child is comfortable with going to the dentist, typically between the ages of two and four following the Happy Visit, it’s are usually time for your child’s first official check-up and cleaning. During this visit, we complete a formal oral health exam, clean your child’s teeth, and take x-rays if the child allows. (And, as always, we end the visit on a high note with a trip to the toy chest!).
Preparing For Your Child’s First Dental Visit
As a parent, you can help prepare your child for a successful first dental visit.
My top tips on how are below:
- Be a good role model.
Let your kids see you brush and floss daily. Seeing you maintain your oral health signals to your kids the importance of strong dental hygiene. Talk to your kids about why you’re brushing and flossing, and engage them in a dialogue about why it’s important they do the same.
- Check out some dental-themed children’s books.
There are lots of great children’s books about visiting the dentist. Reading these books together can help familiarize and mentally prepare your child for what a dental visit is like. Some of my favourite titles include:
Peppa Pig™ Dentist Trip (Scholastic Inc.)
Dora the Explorer Goes to the Dentist (Random House)
Jarod Giraffe Goes to the Dentist (Leelah Hope)
Noah’s Visit to the Dentist (Speedy Publishing, LLC)
We have copies of all of these books at our practice, so parents can read them to their little ones before heading into their appointment.
- Introduce oral care into play.
Keep the conversation going and introduce oral care into play. Play is important to your child’s learning and development, and is a relaxed way to continue discussion about dental hygiene.
There are numerous dental-specific toys out there, such as Dentist Barbie, Playmobil® Dentist and Patient, Play-Doh Doctor Drill and Fill Set, and JOYIN Doctor/Dentist Play Set. These toys are great, but you can just as easily incorporate oral health conversations with other toys too. Does the doll or action figure need to brush their teeth too, perhaps?
- Make use of YouTube.
In addition to many excellent cat videos, YouTube has some great educational content to help prepare your child for their first dental visit. Parents have told me they’ve found “Caillou at the Dentist,” “Dentist Video (Sesame Street)”, “Dudley Visits the Dentist,” and “Billy Blue Hair – Why Do I Have to Go to the Dentist?” quite helpful. These videos offer another medium to introduce your child to dental visits in a friendly and fun manner.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be setting your child up for a great first dental visit and great oral habits for life. Thanks for reading and happy brushing and flossing!
About Dr. William Chin
Dr. William Chin is a general dentist and the owner of Norwood Dental Centre. His practice is focused on delivering surprisingly friendly dental care with no white coats, no judgement, and no pressure.
Connect with Norwood Dental Centre at 780-474-2456 or at www.norwood-dental.ca.