Many people have heard about the importance of flossing once per day, but this essential step in oral hygiene is often overlooked or performed incorrectly. Routine flossing removes plaque and food particles where a toothbrush cannot easily reach. Plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing your teeth, flossing and using fluoride to clean your mouth are all essential for maintaining oral health. Read our step-by-step guide below to learn how to floss teeth properly to help ensure healthy teeth and gums for years to come.
According to the American Dental Association, flossing is a critical oral hygiene practice. Flossing your teeth only takes a few minutes, and it should not be painful. The act of flossing before bedtime is one of the best practices you can do for your oral healthcare. In addition, cleaning between your teeth will aid in the prevention of cavities, gum disease and plaque.
Plaque that is not removed will harden into a rough substance called tartar or calculus. Tartar collects along your gum line and can lead to gum disease. When it comes to flossing, pick a time of day when you can devote an extra couple of minutes to your dental care. For example, people who are too tired at the end of the day may benefit from cleaning between their teeth first thing in the morning or after lunch. Others might like to go to bed with a clean mouth.
There are two types of floss from which to choose, nylon and PTFE floss. When used correctly, do a great job removing plaque and additional debris stuck in between your teeth.
- Nylon (or multifilament) floss: This type of floss can either be waxed or unwaxed. Unwaxed floss is thin nylon made out of 35 strands twisted together. It fits into tight spaces if teeth are closer together. However, it is more prone to breaking. Waxed floss is standard nylon floss with a light wax coating, which is less likely to break but harder to use in tight spots.
- PTFE (monofilament) floss: Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE) is made from a material that easily slides between teeth. It is less likely to shred or break compared to standard floss.
How to Use Dental Floss
The ADA recommends following these tips to floss your teeth correctly:
- Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around your middle fingers.
- Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
- When the floss touches your gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide and work it into your gum line.
- Go to a clean section of floss and repeat this technique on the rest of your teeth.
If your gums bleed easily, do not let that stop you from flossing daily. Regular flossing will help improve the health of your gums, and therefore, reduce bleeding over time. If gum bleeding is a concern, you should use soft floss that easily slides between your teeth.
Tips for Proper Flossing
- Make sure to relax your lips and cheeks. One of the most common mistakes you can make while flossing is tightening your lips and cheeks, making it harder to get your fingers into the mouth.
- Look for dental products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance, so you know they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
- When you are finished flossing, throw the floss away. If you reuse floss, it could leave bacteria in your mouth, and it will not be as effective as a new piece.
Rockville Smiles offers the highest quality dental care for your children in an atmosphere that is caring and fun. A healthy smile is defined as teeth and gums that are well-taken care of, clean and strong. Our goal is to provide your child with a healthy smile that will give your child the self-esteem to achieve their dreams!
Please call us at (916) 783-5239 or request your appointment online.