Flossing is vital to maintaining oral health, preventing gum disease, and removing food stuck in teeth, yet less than half of Americans say they floss at least once a day, and 20% say they never floss at all. Even if you’re already flossing regularly, using proper technique will ensure your flossing is effective. Flossing incorrectly can hurt your gums, so it’s crucial to learn the correct form.
To help you protect your oral health, we’ve come up with some simple steps to follow each time you floss. From how to hold floss to how to use dental floss and dental flossers, this article will explain the most effective ways to clean between your teeth and maintain your oral health. Keep reading to find out the value of flossing and how to start practicing flossing the right way.
The Importance of Flossing
Floss is an interdental cleaner, which qualifies it as an essential part of taking care of teeth and gums, according to the American Dental Association. Because more than 500 bacterial species live in plaque, including some harmful kinds, plaque buildup can be detrimental to your mouth’s overall health. Unlike a toothbrush, an interdental cleaner like floss reaches the gumline, which is crucial to keeping the spaces between teeth clean and removing plaque that can result in gum disease or cavities.
Though both brushing and flossing are crucial aspects of your dental care routine, flossing is a more effective method for maintaining oral health when done correctly. While brushing removes plaque from only the front and back surfaces of teeth, flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and underneath the gums for a more thorough cleaning. The difficult-to-reach areas that dental floss reaches are where the most harmful bacteria live, which is why flossing regularly can help prevent gum diseases like gingivitis.
Flossing can also help keep your breath fresh and prevent periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a risk factor in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so flossing can protect both your overall health and your oral hygiene.
Flossing Tool Options
Nowadays, there are many tools available to help you properly clean between your teeth and reap the health benefits of flossing your teeth. Here are some of the most popular flossing tool options.
- Traditional dental floss: Traditional dental floss is the classic thin white string we typically think of when we picture flossing. Many different variations of regular floss are available, and the only factor affecting the effectiveness of dental floss is the technique you use.
- Flavored floss: Flavored floss, such as mint, is excellent for kids who may be more resistant to flossing. Many adults also opt for flavored floss because it makes the overall flossing experience more pleasant.
- Dental floss picks: Many people consider dental floss picks more convenient than traditional dental floss because you don’t have to wrap a string tightly around your fingers, which can be uncomfortable. Floss picks also take some of the guesswork out of trying to find the perfect angle to floss.
- Dental water jets: Also referred to as oral irrigators, dental water jets use high-pressure water to clean food particles and remove plaque from between teeth. This relatively new flossing tool is both easy to use and effective.
How to Floss Properly
Proper flossing technique will depend on which method you use and whether you have braces to navigate. We’ve put together a guide on how to floss properly using various flossing methods, along with some tips for flossing with braces, so you can floss successfully, no matter your dental situation.
How to Use Traditional Dental Floss
If you’re using regular dental floss, follow these five simple steps.
- Wash your hands: Flossing with traditional dental floss requires putting your fingers in your mouth, so make sure you’ve thoroughly washed your hands before beginning to floss.
- Cut and wrap the floss: Break off around 18 to 24 inches of dental floss and wrap one end of the floss around the middle or index finger of one hand and the other around the opposite index finger. Hold the floss tightly by pinching it between your thumbs and index fingers, leaving a couple of inches of floss between to manipulate.
- Direct the floss: With the floss pulled taut between your fingers, use your index fingers to guide the floss into the space between two teeth. Gently glide the floss against the sides of your teeth to clean out the area.
- Curve the floss: As the floss approaches your gums, curve it into a C-shape around the base of one of the teeth to reach the space around the entire tooth, including the back.
- Repeat: Remove the floss from between those teeth and repeat this process, using a fresh section of floss each time you move from tooth to tooth.
How to Use a Dental Floss Pick
Using a handheld flosser like a dental floss pick is similar to traditional floss. After you’ve washed your hands, follow these foureasy steps.
- Angle the flosser: Firmly grip the handle and point the tip of it at an angle facing toward the teeth you plan on flossing first.
- Guide the floss: Gently guide the flosser between the two teeth and use the same sliding zigzag motion to clean the area you would with regular dental floss. Make sure you don’t snap or pop the floss, which could hurt your gums.
- Bend the floss: Bend the floss as best you can around each tooth to carefully clean along the gumline and every tooth surface.
- Repeat: Follow this process for the rest of your teeth, rinsing the dental floss pick before moving onto a new tooth to keep it fresh.
How to Floss With Braces
Flossing with braces can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. If you don’t mind adding some extra time to your daily dental routine, you can follow the traditional flossing method while being extra careful to thread the floss through the wires and brackets of your braces. To speed up the process, you could use a floss threader, which will help you safely pull the floss behind the braces wire.
An even easier way to floss with braces is to use a dental water jet, eliminating the chance of getting floss caught in your braces. If you have a dental water jet, all you need to do is fill the machine with water, position the water flosser’s tip between two of your teeth, turn it on, and guide the water stream between each tooth and along your gumline. You can close your mouth to prevent splashing, but make sure you let the excess water drain from your mouth while flossing.
Contact AZ Family Dental for a Complete Dental Cleaning
Although regular flossing can help keep your teeth clean and prevent gum disease, routine dental cleanings are still necessary for avid flossers. When it’s time for your dental cleaning, contact AZ Family Dental for quality care at a fair price. At AZ Family Dental, we pride ourselves on providing our patients with excellent care, while treating them like family.
If you’re looking for modern dentistry done right in Glendale, AZ, schedule an appointment with AZ Family Dental today.