Did you know it’s important to floss every day? Even more important than making sure that you floss daily is doing it properly. Flossing incorrectly isn’t effective and it probably isn’t doing much to help your teeth! So, let’s go over proper flossing techniques.
How To Floss Properly
Grab your floss and stand in front of a mirror! We are going to learn how to floss your teeth the right way to keep your pearly whites happy!
- Gather about 18 inches of floss and wind it around your two pointer fingers (or middle fingers), leaving a couple inches in the middle to use.
- Slide the floss gently up and down between your teeth
- Curve the floss in a “C” shape around each tooth, and be sure to go below your gum line. Don’t force it, though, because that can damage your gums and cause bleeding
- Use a new section of floss as plaque/food debris builds up on the strand.
- Take your time and pay attention to each tooth until you reach all of them.
How To Floss With Braces?
If you have braces, flossing is just as important but it may be a little trickier. That’s okay, we’ll teach you the best flossing technique to use for braces.
Before we get started, make sure you have about ten to fifteen minutes so that you can floss properly. We also suggest using a wax coated floss to prevent sticking and tearing. Okay, got it? Good, let’s learn how to floss with braces!
- You need a little more floss to work around braces, about 24 inches works well.
- Wrap the floss around your pointer fingers and gently slide the floss between two teeth.
- Work the floss in an upside-down U shape for your top teeth (or a U shape for your bottom teeth) to clean each tooth to the gumline.
- Carefully slide the floss out from behind the wire to prevent it from dislodging.
- Use the same technique to clean all of your teeth and around the wires.
If you need a visual demonstration on how to floss properly, watch this video:
Knowing how to use dental floss probably only answered half of your questions about flossing, right? Don’t worry, we’ve got loads of useful information to answer all your floss-related questions!
What Does Floss Do?
Floss is used to remove all the food particles, bacteria, and plaque that sticks in-between your teeth. Whether you can feel it or not, food gets stuck between your teeth. If you neglect to floss your teeth for a long period of time, plaque will buildup.
Unfortunately, your toothbrush cannot remove the plaque stuck between your teeth. As the plaque builds up, it leaves you susceptible to gingivitis, a gum disease that has its own set of dental health problems. The best remedy for this is a professional dental cleaning. Want to schedule a cleaning with your local Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics?
What is Floss Made From?
Trivia time! Did you know that floss was actually made out of silk back in the 1800s? Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then.
Today, floss usually comes from melted down plastic beads. Manufacturers squeeze the liquefied plastic into long, thin strands and stretch it to make the molecules longer and stronger.
Dental floss is supposed to be unbreakable, hence the use of plastic. Additional layers like wax and flavoring agents are added to make flossing a bit more bearable. Here’s a video on how dental floss is made:
What Happens If You Don’t Floss?
Consistently flossing with a proper technique improves your oral hygiene by removing plaque buildup. If you neglect to use dental floss, the food particles and plaque irritate your gums, making the tissues more sensitive. If it’s your first time flossing in months, chances are your gums will bleed. Try easing your way into, and eventually you’ll wonder why you never did it in the first place!
When Should You Floss?
Should you floss before or after you brush? It probably matters most that you floss properly every day, but officially, you should floss prior to brushing. It makes sense if you think about it, flossing can dislodge food particles that were stuck between teeth. Brushing afterward allows you to clear all of those particles away. Conversely, if you brush first then floss, those particles stick around.
Types of Floss
Did you know that there are different types of floss you can use? If struggling with regular floss is too frustrating or you have braces, you may want to consider one of the alternatives.
We’re all familiar with traditional stringed floss, but there are several subtypes available, including waxed floss, unwaxed floss, and even flavored floss!
If you’re trying to decide between waxed and unwaxed floss you might want to know that there is no real difference between the two. In truth, the main thing that determines the level of effectiveness is your flossing technique. That said, a lot of people prefer wax coated floss because it slides in and out of your teeth a bit easier than unwaxed floss.
Flavored floss usually just features a coating, like mint. Most people who choose a flavored floss do so primarily to get a feeling of freshness and make the act of flossing more pleasant. There is no reason to be concerned over calories or sugar because flavored floss doesn’t have either one!
Floss picks, or dental picks, are a popular product because they make for a more convenient flossing experience. Since the floss picks hold the floss for you, you only have to use one hand.
While they may be convenient, floss picks are not as effective as regular floss. Unfortunately, even if you know how to use dental picks properly, they do not allow you to reach all the necessary angles that normal floss can. As convenient as floss picks are, you can’t get them all of the way around the tooth.
Keep in mind that floss picks for braces are a good thing because you need to floss a little differently. Even if you don’t have braces, floss picks are better than nothing for your oral health.
An oral irrigator (also known as a dental water jet, water flosser or Waterpik®) is a flossing device that uses a stream of pulsating water to remove plaque and food particles between teeth. It’s a new form of flossing that not only removes plaque, but also improves your gingival health.
If you’re curious about how to use a Waterpik®, it’s rather easy. The machine has a water reservoir that connects to a device resembling a toothbrush. Flossing only takes a minute or two once you know how to use a water flosser.
- Lean over the sink and place the oral irrigator in your mouth.
- Close your lips (to prevent splashing) and turn on the device.
- Allow the water to flow from your mouth into the sink.
- Make sure that you pause briefly between teeth and aim the tip just above the gumline at a 90 degree angle.
For more information about brushing and flossing, check out our infographic or learn the 11 ways you can use floss that don’t involve teeth. If you’d like to speak with a dentist about your flossing habits, visit your local Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics.