When it comes to good oral hygiene, many people assume brushing daily is enough; however, the number one weapon against fighting plaque, is flossing. Brushing is typically effective at cleaning the tops and sides of your teeth, but dental floss is essential for cleaning between teeth, where bacteria and food particles hide. Flossing also polishes the surface of teeth, decreases the chance of getting gum disease and/or tooth decay and helps to control bad breath. Many people avoid spending enough time flossing, but sometimes it is simply because they have not been taught how to correctly floss. Along with routine visits to your dentist and this mini-guide, you will soon be on your way to flossing like a pro and having a healthy smile.
What Type of Floss is Best For You?
It is important to choose the best floss for your needs and situation. Dental floss is available in a wide range of styles, including:
- Regular and wide (dental tape), which is often recommended if you have wide spaces between your teeth and/or if you have had bridge work.
- Multifilament (nylon), which is the most common type of floss. Multifilament is available in waxed or unwaxed, as well as a variety of flavors. This type of floss tends to shred easily if teeth are close together.
- Mono-filament (PTFE) is a thin, single strand of floss that is typically used if you have a tight contact between teeth. Unlike nylon floss, mono-filament floss will not break and/or shred as you maneuver it through your teeth.
If you have difficulties using all of these types of floss, there are other methods, such as dental picks, pre-threaded floss and/or inter-dental cleaners. It is best to talk with your dentist about which floss is the best suited for your teeth and any dental treatments you may have, such as dental braces.
How is the Correct Way to Floss?
Proper flossing helps to remove the plaque and food particles in the areas of your mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach, including between teeth and under the gumline. A build-up of plaque can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, so daily flossing is highly recommended. To get the best benefits from flossing, use the following flossing method:
- Pull out a piece of floss that is about the length of your arm.
- Wind each end of the floss around each of your middle fingers, leaving approximately two-inches of floss to work with.
- While holding the floss snug between your thumbs and index fingers, gently glide the floss up and down between the teeth.
- Curve the floss so it fits around the bottom of each tooth and make sure to go just below the gum line. Gently slide the floss along the front of each tooth. Do not force or snap the floss, because you may cut or bruise your gums.
- Use a clean area of the floss on each tooth.
- Remember to floss each of your back teeth as well.
- To remove the floss, while making a slight back and forth motion, gently slide the floss up and away from the teeth.
According to The American Dental Association, it is recommended that you floss at least once a day. It is important to keep in note that you may feel slight discomfort when you first start flossing, but flossing should not be painful. This discomfort will typically go away within a couple of weeks. If the discomfort does not fade and/or you experience pain while flossing, visit your dentist for an exam and ask your dentist or places like Rose City Dental Care for suggestions for a different type of glass that may be more suitable for your needs.