Dental Tip: The Proper Way to Floss

Flossing is one of the most important ways to promote healthy teeth and gums. Proper flossing helps dislodge food debris between the teeth and along the gum line where it is more difficult for a toothbrush to reach. This simple daily act prevents bacteria and plaque from building up, which leads to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. In addition to a healthier mouth, fresher breath is another benefit to flossing your teeth.

Unfortunately, for many people, flossing is one of the most overlooked steps in routine oral health care. As a result, these patients are at an increased risk for gum infections that lead to gum disease and eventually tooth loss. To get the most out of flossing, you not only need to make sure that you are using the right type of floss for your smile, but also using the correct technique. Keep reading to learn more about the proper way to floss.

Choose the Right Dental Floss for You

The first step to proper flossing is selecting a floss that works best for your unique dental needs and preferences. Today, there are a variety of flosses and flossing aids from which to choose. These include:

Traditional string floss

String dental floss is available waxed or unwaxed, and is the most commonly used floss. Waxed floss is most often preferred as it slides easily between teeth and doesn’t fray as easily as unwaxed floss.

Dental tape

Dental tape is flatter and smoother than traditional floss. It can easily clean between small spaces, making it a good option for people who have a lot of crowding or who wear dental appliances, like bridges.

Floss picks

This type of flossing device holds the floss for you, which allows you to clean between your teeth with one hand. Although easier and more convenient to use than traditional floss, floss picks may not be as effective as regular floss, since they cannot reach many of the important angles to clean around the teeth. If you’re on the go or have dexterity problems, however, floss picks are a convenient option.

Floss threaders

A floss threader is a small needle-like tool that can be used to move the floss between tight spaces in your teeth. This type of floss aid is especially helpful if you wear dental appliances, braces or permanent retainers.

Oral irrigation devices

These motorized dental tools use a stream of pulsating water to remove food and plaque between the spaces of your teeth.

Technique Is Essential to Effective Flossing

To maintain healthy gums, make flossing a habit every day, at least once a day. If you are using regular string floss, your technique is very important. These tips can help you maximize the effectiveness of your flossing routine:

  1. Break off approximately 18 inches of floss.
  2. Wrap the strand of floss around your two pointer or middle fingers.
  3. Hold the floss in a C-shape around the tooth. Using a back-and-forth motion, gently work the floss between the natural curves of the teeth and against the sides of each tooth to effectively remove bacteria and food particles.
  4. Using a soft up-and-down sawing motion, move the floss beneath the gum lines. Be careful not to force the floss, as this can damage your delicate gum tissue and cause them to bleed.
  5. Repeat the entire process with all of your top and bottom teeth, and don’t forget the back teeth where food and plaque are easily trapped.
  6. Use a fresh section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.

The Proper Way to Floss

Ask Your Dentist for Help

In conjunction with twice-daily brushing and regular visits to see Dr. Michael Quasha and our Hygiene team members, make sure you are flossing once a day to maintain good oral hygiene and overall health. If you have questions about selecting floss or how to floss correctly, contact us today for more information.

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