There’s more to proper dental hygiene than brushing your teeth. Without flossing, you may be leaving almost half the surface of your teeth vulnerable to decay.
Flossing is the best way to remove harmful bacteria and food debris in areas between teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. When combined with twice-daily brushing, flossing once daily can help prevent plaque development, the sticky, destructive substance that forms when bacteria and food debris remain on your teeth.
However, removing plaque from between teeth isn’t always easy. Learning the correct way to floss can help you remove as much plaque as possible without harming your teeth and gums.
A dental professional can provide the best guidance on the benefits of flossing and how to do it right. Dental cleaning specialists George Kontoveros, DMD, and Anthony Klobas, DMD, of 2K Dental, are experts in helping patients learn and execute effective flossing techniques. Based on a thorough dental examination, the staff at 2K Dental can identify trouble spots and help you learn the correct way to floss.
Without proper flossing, you increase your risk of tooth loss and periodontal (gum) disease, along with the need for costly and time-consuming dental repairs. Read on to learn how to floss correctly for optimal results.
The American Dental Association (ADA) advises flossing at least once a day. While it doesn’t matter what time of day you do this, make sure you floss at a time when you can devote a few extra minutes to oral care, so you’re not rushing your technique.
Flossing before brushing ensures that loosened debris is cleaned from your mouth. Many people prefer to floss before bedtime to avoid having plaque sit on their teeth overnight.
Choose the type of dental floss that feels comfortable to manage. Here are some options:
- Unwaxed floss
While this basic floss usually fits easily between tight spaces, it’s more likely to fray, shred, or break during flossing.
- Waxed floss
Waxed floss is coated to strengthen it and prevent breakage. While the wax coating helps floss slide more easily between tight spaces, it may not be appropriate for teeth that are very close together.
- Dental tape
Dental tape is flatter and broader than traditional dental floss. It usually slides easily between teeth and doesn’t easily break or fray. Dental tape often works well for people with wider than normal space between teeth.
- Super floss
One strip of super floss contains a section of yarn-like material with a stiffened end to clean under dental bridges or braces, a section of spongy floss to clean in wide spaces and around dental appliances, and a section of regular floss to remove plaque under the gumline.
All types of dental floss are usually available in flavored options. This may help freshen your breath and make flossing more enjoyable.
Learn the right technique
Follow these steps for the best flossing results:
1. Floss in a well-lit area, preferably with a mirror to check for proper positioning.
2. Begin with about 18 to 24 inches of floss. Wind most of the floss around both middle fingers, leaving about 1-2 inches in the middle for use.
3. While holding the floss taut between your index fingers and thumbs, slide it up and down between your teeth gently.
4. Curve the dental floss around the base of each tooth, forming a C shape beneath the gumline. This should position the floss in the space between your tooth and gumline. Don’t force the floss into this space because you can risk bruising or cutting the gum tissue.
5. Keep replacing the used sections of dental floss by unwinding clean sections and winding up the used sections as you move to different areas.
6. Repeat these steps for all teeth on both upper and lower arches.
While you may experience minor discomfort when you begin a flossing routine, proper dental flossing shouldn’t cause pain.
Consider alternatives to dental floss
Young children and adults who have a hard time manipulating dental floss or mastering the proper technique may benefit from one of these effective alternatives to dental floss:
- Interdental brushes are tiny, cone-shaped brushes attached to a skinny wire, resembling a pipe cleaner. They can be inserted between teeth, where they’re scrubbed back and forth to remove plaque.
- Pre-threaded flossers make it easier to manipulate the floss around your gums without it slipping from your hands. Using dental flossers involves the same technique used with dental floss.
- Water flossers are appliances that release a steady stream of water that forces out plaque and debris between teeth. They may help clean hard-to-reach back teeth.
Follow up with dental cleanings
Maintaining a schedule of twice-annual dental cleanings can complement daily brushing and flossing. During routine dental cleanings, our staff examines your oral health to identify early signs of gum disease or areas that need more attention during your daily dental cleaning. This routine care can help prevent gum disease before it causes complex problems.
Find out more proper flossing and ways to improve your oral and gum health. Call our office in Parma, Akron, or Cleveland, Ohio, today to arrange a consultation.