How To Properly Floss Your Teeth
Flossing is like going to the gym; we all know we SHOULD be doing it (and maybe we even get motivated for a few weeks and do it) however it's something not many of us do enough.
Flossing is the activity that helps dislodge food particles and other debris from between our teeth and gums – in case you were hiding under a rock and have never heard of it.
If left to fester for a long time (even overnight!), such elements can form into plaque, which then gives rise to a whole array of dental hygiene issues, including bad breath, cavities (and in bad cases, the need for root canal treatment) and even other illnesses (if decaying matter is ingested before flossing).
Dental hygienists recommend that one should floss at least once a day, preferably before going to bed. That way, food and other particles trapped in the mouth don't have enough time to turn into harmful plaque.
Let's take a look at what's needed to get started on a good flossing regimen, and how to properly floss your teeth.
Choosing The Right Floss
Flossing starts with selecting the right floss for your teeth. Your personal preferences will lead you to choose the floss that's right for you, including:
- Tape floss, which is ideal if you have wide gaps between your teeth
- Waxed floss, which more easily slides between the teeth
- Multi-filament (or Nylon) floss, which is less expensive
- Mono-filament (or PTFE) floss, which is slightly more costly but does not shred as easily
- Flavored or non-flavored floss
Once you have the right floss in hand, you're all set!
Here's what you should do to ensure you floss properly:
- Measure roughly 50 cm's of floss, and use the cutter embedded in the floss container to snap that length off
- Wrap most of the floss around your two index fingers (some people use their middle fingers – whatever works for you!), leaving a couple of inches of floss available for use to flossing your teeth
- Hold the exposed floss tightly, between your thumb and index finger, and start sliding it between your teeth
- Make sure that when you pull the floss down, you do so gently. You want to go beneath your gum line, but don't want to pull so hard that you end up cutting or bruising your gum tissue
- Use gentle up-down and back/forth manoeuvres to dislodge the plaque and food particles lodged between the teeth
- As you progress from tooth to tooth, make sure you use a clean (unused) segment of Following these tips should get you started into a proper flossing routine. As you floss more regularly, you will develop a “personalized” flossing ritual of your own that works best for you.
More About Technique
Some people like starting their flossing ritual from the upper teeth, working from one end to the other, before turning their attention to the lower level. Others prefer to do it the opposite way. Either way is effective, as long as you floss between all of your teeth every time.
Many dentists will recommend that it's always best to floss after you brush.
Because that way the plaque and the debris is loosened by the brush, and is ripe for easy dislodging by the flossing action. Additionally, brushing after flossing makes it more likely that fluoride, from the toothpaste, could get trapped in the gums – something you want to prevent from happening.
It makes sense to combine a rigid flossing routine with regular brushing and mouth-washing, not to mention, doing your best to avoid sugary foods. With the costs of dental procedures in Australia so high (especially dental implants and wisdom teeth removal) you are doing yourself a favour by taking care of your teeth!