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Places in Your Mouth Where Floss Cannot Clean

By Dr. Scott Frey

 

Flossing Concave SurfacesYou all who have seen our Ideal Oral Health Routine eBook know that there are some spots in the mouth where floss just won’t get the job done. Not all of the surfaces between teeth are smooth and convex, and when you try to floss over concave surfaces you will miss the concavities where dental plaque and other gunk can hide. Here is a list of the areas in your mouth where these concavities are typically found, paying special attention to these areas when you're are cleaning will keep your gums and teeth healthy:


Between Your Canines & First Bicuspids in Your Upper TeethMaxillary First Bicuspid Concavity

 
  • In the vast majority of people there is a significant concavity on mesial surface of your upper first bicuspids (the side of the tooth closest to your two front teeth), so floss is usually not enough to clean this area well.

Between Your Upper & Lower First Molars & Any Teeth Next to Them
  • On your upper first molars there is a significant concavity on the distal surface of the tooth (the side furthest from your two front teeth), and tools other than floss are needed to clean this area well.
     
  • Also because of the shape of the roots of both your upper and lower first molars (the parts of the tooth holding your teeth in your gums) there are often other concavities on both side sides of these teeth. This is one reason why your first molars are some of the first teeth to show signs of periodontal disease.

Between Your Lower Incisors
  • Your lower incisors roots are very ribbon shaped and therefore the sides of these teeth often have concavities that are difficult to clean with floss as well.

Interproximal Aids

In order to effectively keep those areas clean you will need to use an interproximal brush or Soft-Pick in addition to flossing just in those spots; although, you can avoid this dilemma entirely by using a Waterpik to clean between teeth. For me the Waterpik is actually a lot more fun to use than floss and it will do the best job of keeping your gums healthy.

Even though we have covered the most common nooks and crannies where dental plaque can hide, it is important to remember that as you get older your gums can recede a bit for lots of reasons and this will expose new concavities between teeth that will need to be kept clean too. These concavities can also be present on the cheek side of your upper and lower molars, so you should always remember to brush with your toothbrush bristles angled toward your gumline. Taking the time to gently cleanse these areas once or twice a day will save you a lot of headache.

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