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The Ultimate Guide to Flossing

May 13 • 3 minute read

One of the most critical parts of oral hygiene is flossing. Flossing prevents plaque buildup, which ultimately decreases the chance of periodontal disease. Removing as much bacteria as possible can help prevent bad breath, cavities, and possible tooth loss. Flossing once-a-day or more will help preserve the health and life of your teeth. In addition to brushing twice a day, flossing can help you keep your smile beautiful for years to come.

Find a Floss That Works For You

Choose a dental floss that will feel comfortable on your teeth and gums. There is a variety of flosses available, including waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored. Waxed floss slides more easily between teeth than unwaxed floss, which benefits those with teeth that are close together.

What are the Different Types of Dental Floss?

Regular flossing is essential for good oral hygiene because dental floss removes food particles and bacteria that are hard for your toothbrush to access. With so many different floss options available, however, how do you know which one is right for your smile? Different types of floss have different applications, but whichever kind you choose, the most important thing is to use it every day.

  • String dental floss is the type of floss which most people are familiar with. There are different varieties of string floss, including waxed or unwaxed. The materials are sometimes feel different, and some have flavor. However, each kind is equally effective, so feel free to use the one that is most comfortable for you. For example, people with braces often prefer waxed floss, as it slides around wiring more easily.
  • Dental tape is similar to string floss, but it’s much thicker than string. This design works well on teeth with wide gaps between them.
  • Picks hold a piece of floss between two outstretched arms. They make flossing much easier for people with reduced hand mobility. Because the pick only holds a short length of floss, it needs to be rinsed or wiped after flossing each tooth.
  • Threaders have a loop of floss similar to the way a needle holds the thread. Using the threader makes it easier to pass floss between the teeth and around the various parts of a dental appliance.
  • Interdental brushes are useful for people with reduced mobility. This brush is round and thin and slides between the teeth to remove food particles.
  • Water flossers are handheld tools that emit a thin stream of water. You direct the water stream at the spaces between teeth and washes away food and plaque particles. Again, these are useful for people with reduced mobility, or people who wear dental appliances which make flossing difficult.

Proper Flossing Technique

Use around 18 inches of floss, wrapping the bulk of it around your two index fingers. Wrapping the floss around your index fingers will give you more control over where you are flossing. Using a sufficient amount of floss allows you to floss all of your teeth in one sitting.

Hold the floss between your thumb and index fingers. Three to four inches of the floss should be exposed and used for flossing. Your thumbs help to floss your upper teeth while your index fingers target your bottom teeth.

Slide the floss between your teeth. Floss your teeth carefully, as being too aggressive could irritate your gums. Think of it as gently rubbing the floss between the gums and the teeth. Once you feel the floss on your gums, move in a “C” motion and slide it up and down along your teeth. The “C” motion helps to scrape off plaque and debris.

Floss in between each tooth. Flossing each tooth one at a time makes the process more precise and ensures better cleaning. If you need new floss, unravel more from what you have wrapped on your index fingers. You should use a new area of floss for each tooth.

Floss your rear molars. The most common area where gum disease and tooth decay begin are near the back teeth. Although it can be more difficult to floss your rear molars, it is still essential to do so. Slide the floss in between your posterior teeth and gently move it toward you.

Rinse with water or mouthwash. Rinsing your mouth prevents any stray particles from staying in your mouth once you are finished cleaning.

Stay Consistent

If you have not been using floss consistently, you may experience bleeding gums, which means that you need to floss your teeth more often. You should floss your teeth once a day, every day, for about two or three minutes each time. Most people floss after brushing their teeth to remove the remaining debris that brushing leaves behind. The overall health of your teeth heavily relies on flossing regularly. Keep your smile fresh and bright by making a habit out of flossing daily.

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Dr. Mehta and Associates are professionals dedicated to Excellence in General, Family & Cosmetic Dentistry such as Dental Makeovers, Porcelain Veneers, Teeth Whitening, Implants, Crowns/Caps & many other dental procedures. Please come and visit one of our 4 practices. We look forward to taking care of you and your family.