Flossing 101: How to Floss Your Teeth Properly

Why is Flossing Your Teeth Essential to Your Health?

how to floss properly

We often get asked, “Is flossing really that important?” And our answer is always, “Yes!” And knowing how to floss your teeth is a great tool for your overall health.

We get it. Flossing is an extra thing to include in your dental routine. But this is really a case of what you can’t see CAN hurt you.

Your teeth are chewing machines. They were designed for a specific task, and they do quite a good job of it. However, those choppers need care in between uses. Just as you would wash your dishes in between uses and scrub away any leftover food particles, you need to do the same for your teeth. Once your baby teeth are gone, they’re the only ones you’ll ever get.

Why Flossing Is Important

When tiny food particles build up between your teeth, they create the perfect juicy environment for bacteria to grow. And bacteria left unchecked will eventually go to work on your teeth. Eating carbohydrates, including sugary foods, causes plaque to build up and destroy your enamel (your tooth’s only protection). Once gone, enamel cannot be regrown or reproduced.

Even if you brush regularly (two or more times per day), you can still get tooth decay from bacteria buildup in the places that your toothbrush can’t reach—in between your teeth and under the gum line—even if you use an electric toothbrush.

When brushing your teeth, you are only cleaning the chewing surfaces and the outside of your teeth. Your toothbrush misses the entire space in between your teeth. So, flossing is the only way to thoroughly clean those nooks and crannies, including the gum line.

Flossing for Better Health

Dental health has been linked to gum disease, periodontal disease, and many other systemic diseases within the body. Patients who don’t follow proper oral hygiene and floss are susceptible to other diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, pneumonia, and more.

So, your oral health goes far beyond the reaches of your mouth. Floss now. Floss daily. Floss for life.

How to Floss Your Teeth Properly

You will find two types of floss readily available at any grocery or drug store: nylon (or multifilament) floss and PTFE (monofilament) floss. Nylon floss may be waxed or unwaxed, and it comes in several flavors. Because nylon floss is comprised of several fibers, it may shred a little during flossing. PTFE floss is stronger and less likely to shred. Both types of dental floss perform equally well.

Once you’ve chosen your floss, follow these steps for the best results.

  1. Remove about 18 inches of floss and wind the ends around either your middle or index fingers of each hand for better control.
  2. Slide the floss between each set of teeth, including behind your back teeth, while holding the floss tightly between your fingers.
  3. As you floss between your teeth, gently angle the floss below the gumline of each tooth to remove any food debris that may be stuck. (You don’t need to be forceful, as your gums can be sensitive.)
  4. As you move from one tooth to the next, adjust your floss so you are using a clean section each time, and not reintroducing food particles gathered from the previous tooth.

If you have difficulty flossing, you have a few other options: Y-shaped flossers, dental floss picks, or a water flosser.

Special Cases for Flossing

Flossing bridges: Floss your dental bridges as you would your regular teeth.

Flossing with braces: Slide your floss between your teeth above the wire. An inexpensive orthodontic floss threader will help make this job easier. You may also opt to use a water flosser if you have braces.

Flossing for younger children: As with teeth brushing, young children may need assistance with flossing until they can master it well enough to provide their own self-dental care. Dental floss picks may be a great alternative until he or she has better dexterity.

Have questions about flossing?

Need help with your flossing technique?

Bring your floss with you. We’ll be glad to provide a demonstration!

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