Flossing is an important part of good dental hygiene. Flossing removes food particles that get stuck between your teeth, preventing them from building up and turning into plaque. One of the most common places to get cavities is between the teeth due to food getting trapped and leading to an increase in bacteria.
In order for flossing to be effective, it must be done correctly. Learning how to floss properly is something that should start in childhood when oral care is taught. It may be difficult for very young children to floss their own teeth at first and a parent may need to help. Use this guide to ensure you are flossing your teeth correctly and teaching the correct process to your children.
Flossing Step By Step
- – Break off a piece of floss that is around 18 to 24 inches long.
- – Wrap the floss around the middle fingers of both hands, leaving between 1 and 2 inches of floss between your fingers.
- – Hold the floss with your index fingers and thumbs so that it is tightly stretched between your hands.
- – Gently slide the floss in between two teeth.
- – Move the floss up and down, sliding it against the sides of both teeth. Avoid pushing the floss too hard against your gums.
- – Curve the floss around the base of each tooth to reach more of the surface of the tooth under the gum line.
- – Repeat steps 4-6 using a clean section of floss between each tooth.
- – To floss around braces, simply thread the floss under the archwire of your braces and follow the above steps.
When is the best time to floss?
It is best to floss your teeth before you brush. Flossing dislodges food and plaque so that it can be more effectively brushed away by your toothbrush. If you brush first and then floss, the food particles and plaque will remain in your mouth until the next time you brush.
How often should you floss?
It is recommended that you floss your teeth once a day and brush twice a day. It doesn’t really matter what time of day you floss, but flossing at night followed by brushing allows you to go to bed with a cleaner mouth. When food and plaque sit on your teeth overnight, that is when the greatest risk of decay occurs.
What type of floss should you use?
There’s no perfect type of floss for everyone. There are different types of floss that offer different benefits. Here are some of the types of floss available.
- – Standard floss: a thin string of nylon that fits between most teeth. It comes unwaxed or waxed, though the wax allows it to more easily slide into tight spaces between teeth. Some types of floss come flavored.
- – Dental tape: a wider string of nylon that is flat like a ribbon. It is effective for wider gaps between teeth or around braces.
- – Super floss: consists of 3 parts, a stiffened threading end, spongy floss, and regular floss. Super floss is ideal for getting around dental work like bridges and orthodontic appliances.
You can choose the right floss for you based on your unique needs. If you have trouble flossing around certain teeth your dentist may recommend a different type of floss to help you reach problem places.
Get Flossing Tips From Savannah Dental Solutions
If you have any questions about proper flossing techniques, ask your dentist during one of your regular dental checkups at Savannah Dental Solutions. If you’re looking for a children’s dentist in Savannah, GA, Savannah Dental Solutions is a family dental practice specializing in both pediatric and adult dentistry.
Call (912) 354-1366 today or contact us to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you and your family develop good oral hygiene habits.
If you’re typical, you probably brush your teeth at least twice a day (once in the morning and once before you go to bed.) You probably know you should be flossing your teeth regularly, too … but if you’re honest you’ll probably admit you don’t do it nearly as often as you should. In fact, statistics indicate that almost 80 percent of people fail to floss.
Flossing takes time. It can also be uncomfortable or even painful (which actually means you should be doing it more often.) If you understand exactly why dentists recommend flossing your teeth once a day and how to floss the right way, you’ll be more likely to fit this important step into your daily routine.
Why Dentists Recommend You Floss Your Teeth Daily
Flossing is the term dentists use to refer to the act of cleaning between the surfaces of the teeth using dental floss. Dentists recommend that people floss their teeth regularly (in addition to brushing their teeth regularly) because flossing has repeatedly been shown to improve oral health and prevent cavities and gum disease. Brushing your teeth removes plaque and decay-causing material from the tooth surfaces the toothbrush bristles can reach.
Flossing removes plaque and decay-causing materials from the crevasses between the teeth that toothbrush bristles can’t reach. If these materials are not removed, they degrade and turn into microbes that cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
Compelling Research Proves the Benefits of Flossing
For a study published in a 2008 issue of the Journal Periodontal, researchers at New York University studied 51 pairs of twins between the ages of 12 and 21 to assess the effects of flossing on oral health. Half of the twins participated in a regimen of tongue brushing and tooth brushing. The other half of the twins participated in a regimen of tongue brushing, tooth brushing, and flossing. Researchers collected samples from participants to assess how prevalent 26 plaque-causing microbe species were in the mouths of each participant before the study began and after the study ended.
The results were conclusive: the group that did not floss as part of its oral-hygiene regimen had “overabundant” amounts of cavity- and periodontal-disease causing microbes in their mouths. Researchers concluded that twins who flossed for 2 weeks reduced the amount of microbes associated with oral disease.
How to Floss Properly
Dentists agree and research backs up the fact that flossing is an important step in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Why do so many people forego this step? One reason is that they’re flossing incorrectly, thus causing themselves pain and discomfort that leads them to eventually skip this important step altogether.
Choose the right type of dental floss. If your gums are sensitive, choose a waxed or single-filament floss that will slide easily between the teeth without shredding.
Choose the right amount of dental floss. Ideally, cut an 18-inch or so length of floss for each flossing session.
Employ proper flossing technique. Wind most of the dental floss around the middle fingers of each hand (divided equally between the left and the right hand). You should have about an inch or two left to work between your teeth.
Firmly grip the inch or two of floss between your thumbs and index fingers. Gently and slowly work it between teeth in a vertical motion. Curve the dental floss around the bottom of each tooth, gently slipping it beneath the gumline to lift out debris. As you move from one tooth to the next, release more floss from your middle fingers so each tooth segment uses a clean section of floss.
After you have gently and thoroughly flossed between all teeth, discard the dental floss. Gently rinse your mouth with lukewarm water, swish, and spit. This will remove any residual food particles and microbes from your mouth.
If you can’t floss, use a floss alternative. Life is unpredictable and busy, and there will definitely be times when it’s not convenient or possible to perform a “textbook floss.” In these situations, you can improvise.
- • Flossing picks or sticks are not as effective as dental floss but are acceptable in a pinch.
- • Sugar-free gum chewed for 20 minutes after a meal will help dislodge decay and encourage saliva production.
- • Last but not least, swish water forcibly between your teeth to clear away food particles, then spit out the water.
We’re all born with one set of permanent teeth. When they’re gone, they’re gone! Flossing regularly is one of the most effective ways to ensure the health of your teeth and gums, and ensure your natural pearly whites will last and serve you well as long as possible.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.