Do you floss every day? When your dentist or oral hygienist poses this question, can you answer with a confident “yes”? We certainly hope so! Flossing is an important part of your preventative oral care routine, and it is also an investment in your overall health (source). However, even people who floss each day can experience decay in between teeth due to poor technique. Learn how to floss properly to avoid painful cavities and gum issues.
How to Floss Properly
Flossing might seem like an easy, mindless task, but flossing with poor technique can actually cause more harm than good if you are damaging your gums in the process. Or, you could just be spreading bacteria from tooth to tooth. Read up on the best flossing practices:
- Wash your hands immediately before flossing.
- Gather a long piece of floss – not using enough floss is a common pitfall. For best results, work with around 18 inches of floss. This length will allow you to have a solid grip on the floss.
- Pinch the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Some people find that it is helpful to wrap the floss around their fingers once or twice.
- Slide the floss in between each of your teeth in a back-and-forth motion. Follow the curve of your teeth, and gently slide the floss down to the base of each tooth. If you are able, gently insert the floss slightly under the gum line to reach the hiding plaque and bacteria. You can start with your upper, lower, front, or back teeth. Just make sure you get in between all your teeth and even along the sides of your very back teeth.
- Don’t use the same section of floss between each set of teeth. Instead, choose a clean section each time to avoid spreading around bacteria.
- Be gentle. Never force floss suddenly between teeth. If you have a tight trouble spot, slowly wedge the floss downward in a saw-like fashion to avoid damaging your gums. To remove the floss, use a slow back-and-forth motion once again, pulling the floss upward.
- If you have a permanent retainer or braces, use a floss threader. This tool will help you weave the floss under the retainer or braces so that you can clean between your teeth.
Other Factors to Consider
Once you know how to floss properly, most types of floss will work just fine. The two main types of floss are nylon and single filament floss. Nylon floss comes in both waxed and unwaxed versions, and it is usually cheaper than single filament floss. However, it can break and shred in between tightly compacted teeth. Single filament floss generally glides easily in between teeth, even those that are spaced tightly together.
Both types of floss are effective in removing plaque when used correctly. Since every mouth is different, the type of floss you use is ultimately a personal choice. Whether you go with nylon or single filament, waxed or unwaxed, be sure that your floss is effective and easy to use. Keep in mind that the right floss for you might not be the right floss for your family members, so you may need to pick up different types of floss at the supermarket.
Flossing at least once a day can prevent cavities and bad breath, but make sure you are flossing thoroughly and carefully each time. Still wondering how to floss properly? Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for help. Schedule an appointment with Duff Family Dental if you live in the Springfield, Missouri, area. We offer a full line of general, cosmetic, pediatric, and restorative dentistry services. Call us at 417-501-8601 or schedule an appointment today!