- by Dr. Karanjit Dhillon
- September 26, 2022
You must have all heard that flossing is good for dental hygiene, but might be confused about how it helps and about the proper way to do it.
Adequate and regular flossing helps to eliminate plaque and remove food particles from places that can not be accessed by toothbrush easily for example from under the gumline and between the teeth.
Daily flossing can help to avoid tooth decay and gum disease, which can be caused by the buildup of plaque, a sticky film that amasses on teeth.
Most people do not floss their teeth as regularly as they brush. In fact, many people do not floss at all.
It helps to remember that it is important to follow the proper technique to receive maximum benefits from flossing. Moreover, Improper flossing can actually damage your teeth and gums.
Our team at Morgan Hill Dentistry makes it a point to educate our patients about the correct way of brushing and flossing their teeth.
Step-by-step guide on the best way to floss.
- Break off about 18 to 24 inches of dental floss, hold it correctly, winding most of it around both of your middle fingers, leaving about 1 to 2 inches of floss to work with on your teeth.
- Now hold the floss tightly with your thumbs and index fingers and place it in between two teeth. Gliding the floss up and down, rub it against both sides of each tooth, taking care to reach beneath the gum line.
Take care to not glide the floss into your gums as this can lead to scratching or bruising of your gums.
- Curve the floss gently at the base of the tooth to form a C shape as it reaches your gums. This allows the floss to reach the space between your gums and your tooth.
- Moving from tooth to tooth, keep repeating the steps. Use a new, clean section of floss for each tooth.
- Use the same back-and-forth motion to remove the floss by bringing it up and away from the teeth.
Flossing With Braces
Quite a tricky job, flossing with braces takes more time than flossing without braces. It can take about 10 to 15 minutes to floss with the regular floss, for the teeth with braces.
We recommend that you choose the waxed floss, which is less likely to tear and get stuck in the braces.
Flossing instructions for braces
- Begin with breaking off about 18 to 24 inches of waxed dental floss.
- Try to stand in front of a mirror as you floss to ensure that the floss is going where you need it to.
- Begin by threading the floss between your teeth and the main wire. Make sure that you can move the floss around easily by twisting the loose ends of the floss around your index fingers.
- Move the floss up and down along the sides of both teeth, pressing it between the two teeth as gently as you can.
- Try to make an upside-down U with the floss while working on your top teeth, by going up the side of one tooth until you get to the gum line. Then, gently glide the floss down the side of the other tooth.
- Remove the floss gently and carefully while unthreading it from behind the wire. Be careful to not pop the floss out of your tooth, as this can dislodge a wire.
- Move on to the next two teeth, using the same method until you’ve finished flossing between all your teeth.
Other options that work well for flossing with braces besides waxed floss include:
- Waterpik, a type of water flosser
- A floss threader is a small tool that helps you thread floss under your braces.
Both of these can help to save you time with flossing.
When Should You Floss?
Flossing at the right time is extremely important as it plays a vital role in your oral health.
Usually, people brush their teeth before flossing. However, the dental specialists at Morgan Hill Dentistry recommend that one must first floss and then brush the teeth for better results as the flossing helps to lift and release food and plaque stuck in between the teeth while brushing afterward removes these particles from the mouth. Brushing first and flossing afterward, can make the food and plaque remain in your mouth until you brush next.
It is usually recommended to floss once a day and brush at least twice daily for optimal oral health.
What Are The Different Types Of Dental Floss?
There are many varieties of Dental floss available and the type best for you depends on your choices, the space in between your teeth, and whether you wear braces or bridges.
While some dental floss is easier to use in wider spaces, other types are easier to use in tighter spaces.
Different types of dental floss include:
Broad and flat like a ribbon, this floss is easier to handle for those who have braces, gaps, or substantial spaces in between their teeth.
A thin, nylon strand that can fit in between teeth, it comes flavored or unflavored as well as waxed or unwaxed. A wax-coated floss is generally easier to get in the crowded or closer teeth.
This kind of floss has three parts: a stiffened end for flossing underneath appliances, spongy floss to clean around the appliances, and regular floss to eliminate plaque underneath the gum line, making it easier to work with braces, bridges, and gaps.
Other Types of Floss
There are some other tools besides the above-mentioned ones which can make flossing easier and faster.
These include an electric flosser or a water flosser which removes plaque and food from between teeth by using water and pressure. These are great alternatives for those people who have trouble using regular floss.
A water flosser is especially useful if one has braces as it can clean in-between brackets and wires.
Another option of dental floss available is disposable floss picks. Easy to maneuver, they can help to floss the hard-to-reach teeth in the back of the mouth.
The floss should be thrown away once you are finished. Always remember that a used piece of floss is not as effective and moreover can leave bacteria in your mouth.
Our dentists at Morgan Hill Dentistry explain that good oral hygiene entails more than just brushing the teeth and involves flossing regularly and correctly.
Flossing not only helps to remove bacteria, plaque, and food from between the teeth, but it also lessens the probability of tooth decay and gum disease.
Do make it a point to schedule regular dental cleanings at least twice a year along with regular brushing and flossing.