Fact one: Flossing is more important than brushing your teeth when it comes to preventing gum disease and tooth loss.
Fact two: Your Invisalign treatment becomes pointless if your teeth fall out.
When it comes to hygiene habits, flossing ranks extremely high — yet, a recent study released by the American Dental Association showed that only 50.5 percent of Americans floss daily and 18.5 percent don’t bother to floss at all
Flossing isn’t just about removing visible chunks of food — it’s also about getting rid of plaque, the film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Over time, this bacteria will produce acids that will destroy tooth enamel and develop on the roots under your gums to break down the bone supporting your teeth. So in short — if you don’t floss thoroughly, you can develop periodontitis, gingivitis, halitosis (bad breath) and eventually lose your teeth.
Even more horrifying news — since Invisalign is form fitted, food particles and plaque can get trapped inside your aligners, increasing your overall risk for dental problems down the road.
Ideally, you should floss after every meal to ensure a clean mouth before you place your aligners back in your mouth, but at the very least, floss once a day.
So, how does one properly floss?
Start with about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around each middle finger, leaving an inch or two to work with
Hold it taut and slide it gently up and down between your teeth
Curve the floss around the base of each tooth, making sure to go beneath the gum line
Use clean sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth
If this isn’t enough to convince you to floss daily to make sure your teeth are gleaming after treatment, then just refer to the ol’ dentist adage:
Is mouthwash as effective as floss? To put it plainly — nope.
While a good mouthwash can help in the fight against gum disease, cavities and bad breath, it simply can’t remove plaque as well as floss can. Plaque is sticky and adhesive, like glue, and can’t be removed unless you floss and put some elbow grease into it.
Flossing displaces the destructive colonies of bacteria growing against your teeth and gums. When these bacterial colonies, or plaque, are allowed to grow freely, they eventually cause gum disease and leads to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other serious ailments. Flossing disrupts their efforts and prevents them from building a stable home (calculus) in your mouth. And flossing a couple times a week won’t do the job — bacteria works fast and they’ll re-colonize before you know it.
If your gums bleed when you floss, it means your gums are infected. Flossing regularly will eventually stop the bleeding.
Using mouthwash may loosen up the surface of plaque on your teeth and in your gums, so you can use it in conjunction with flossing. However, mouthwash can’t replace regular flossing.
Mouthwash can also be used as a quick refresher, but if you’re dealing with bad breath, the underlying cause is the bacteria lurking between your teeth and on your tongue. The only lasting solution is regular flossing. And don’t forget to brush your tongue — one study found that brushing the tongue reduces the perception of bad breath by 70%.
In fact, in January of 2005, a judge ordered the makers of Listerine to remove the claim that their rinse was “as effective as floss” from the labels of their product. The judge concluded that the clinical studies Listerine used in their findings were based on flawed research and that such a claim posed a risk to public health.
Whether it’s a vacation or business trip (we hope it’s a vacation), traveling will definitely alter your Invisalign routine. Here are a few tips to keep top of mind when preparing for your excursion.
Always take your previous set, your current set and your next set with you. That way, if you lose or break a tray, you can always fall back to the previous set.
Carry your aligners in your purse or carry-on luggage when flying, in case baggage is delayed or lost.
Pack an extra case. If you leave one behind in a hotel or restaurant, you’ll have a spare.
Bring a travel toothbrush and floss picks. (Ask the front desk at your hotel for a travel toothbrush and toothpaste — they’ll usually provide it for free.)
Keep a bottle of water handy. Rinsing your mouth and trays with it when you need to, plus staying hydrated is always a must.
Keep a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on you and use it on your hands before removing or reinserting your aligners.
As if catching a flight wasn’t already a stressful task, consider the length of the flight and how comfortable you would letting a stranger watch you take your aligners in and out of your mouth. Make sure to get an aisle seat if you can, since you’ll probably want to head to the restroom before and after meals. You can also eat something before you get on the plane, so that in-flight snacks aren’t too tempting. Don’t forget your case if you’re brushing your teeth in restrooms! At the very least, grab some paper towels to rest your aligners on to reduce the amount of germs that come into contact with your aligners.
Let us know if you have any Invisalign travel tips that we haven’t included and have a safe trip!
For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact us at (212) 879-3956. Dr. Elliott M. Moskowitz is located in East 70s (Upper East Side), New York and is a Preferred Invisalign Provider.
The iTero Scanner is a system that allows Dr. Moskowitz to take a 3D digital scan of your malocclusion, aka your teeth and your bite! With the digital scanner, we can make adjustments in real time and even transmit the file wirelessly for processing. It’s clear that we enjoy using it, but here’s 4 reasons why you’ll love our iTero Scanner.
The iTero increases overall impression accuracy. Which means better fitting aligners and more comfort for you.
Increased efficiency and faster impressions. We know how much you love us, but we understand you’ve got things to take care of so we’ll have you on your way in no time.
No impression material needed. This means you don’t have to worry about messy powder or the gag-inducing impression putty for a better experience.
Digital scans are sent directly to the lab. This improves communication so we can get you your aligners sooner.
Still confused about how it works? Come in for a consultation and we’ll use your teeth as a demo so we can determine if Invisalign is the right choice for you!