How to Floss Correctly

Dentist in Monroe NC provides general dentistryYou’re probably already brushing your teeth twice daily. This part of your oral hygiene regimen is important. However, equally important, if not more so, should be flossing. Brushing is only effective for removing the bacteria and particles that are easy to reach. This bacteria, combined with saliva and food particles, creates plaque, a sticky but clear and colorless substance that adheres to your teeth. Plaque fosters a fertile environment for tooth decay that can eventually become cavities.

This where flossing comes to the rescue. Flossing removes the plaque that your toothbrush can’t reach in places such as in between your teeth. However, it is crucial that you are flossing correctly. If not, you are putting forth the time and effort without receiving the full benefit. Flossing is that extra bit of prevention that can help you to avoid painful, time-consuming and potentially costly dental procedures that may become necessary due to tooth decay being allowed to run rampant between teeth.

How to Floss Correctly

  1. Wrap around your middle fingers a length of floss about eighteen inches long. You will use your thumbs and forefingers to move the floss. Be sure to wind more around one finger than the other so you can wind the dirty used floss toward the finger and unspool a fresh length.
  2. Insert the floss between two teeth and use a gentle back and forth “sawing” motion all the way from the top of the teeth down to their base where they erupt from your gums.
  3. Encircle one side of the floss around each tooth, making a “U” shape then gently slide up and down your tooth. Repeat this a few times, making sure to get slightly underneath the gum-line, then repeat on the other side of the tooth. This should be repeated for each tooth.
  4. Again be certain to wind up the floss around your finger so you’re using a clean length of floss for each space between your teeth that you floss.
  5. If you are not already flossing regularly do not be alarmed if you see that your gums are bleeding. This is caused by inflammation brought on by the bacteria dwelling there. If you continue to floss daily as recommended by your dentist, you should see an improvement in the health of gums in one to two weeks.

What About Floss Picks?

Many consumers prefer to use floss picks, which are “Y” shaped pieces of plastic with floss strung between the “arms” of the “Y”. Although the use of these is preferable to not flossing at all, dentists prefer using a length of “free” floss and your bare hands. Floss picks are not ideal when it comes to proper flossing as you can’t wrap them around a tooth due to it being already strung in a straight line.  

“Super floss” is also available. This thick and fuzzy type of floss is used to floss between teeth with extra space in between them. For teeth with only tight spaces between them, squeezing even regular floss in between can be difficult. The strand can become stuck, shred or even break. These difficulties can be frustrating and lead to people choosing not to floss. Waxed floss is also available to help you slip into those tight spaces between your teeth.  

Use the Right Floss

Whatever kind of floss you choose, make sure that it is American Dental Association approved to be safe for use. Also, be sure to only use a length of floss once. Bacteria that has been removed on floss can linger and make you sick if reintroduced later. Washing it is not enough!

Studies recommend flossing after your brush as there will already be less plaque and food particles to get stuck on the floss. For any additional questions about brushing, flossing or your oral health in general, call 704.240.5054 or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Leonard Hess today.