Our last blog post was about proper techniques for brushing your teeth. So it makes sense to follow that post with one on proper techniques for flossing. If you haven’t heard by now, flossing daily is crucial for getting rid of the harmful bacteria between your teeth. Lifetime Family Dental is a dental office in Gilbert, AZ that is passionate about keeping your teeth healthy and looking great. And flossing daily is one of the important tasks that will go a long way toward both of those goals.
Floss Daily for Healthy Teeth
Plaque is the main culprit that leads to tooth decay. If it’s not removed, plaque can build up on your teeth and cause dental caries (cavities). It can also lead to gingivitis, aka gum disease. Most of the plaque that forms after eating is easily removed when you brush your teeth—except for the plaque in those hard-to-reach spots between your teeth. To remove the plaque in those places, flossing is required.
Proper Flossing Technique—from our dental office in Gilbert
Pull out a piece of floss that is about 18 inches long. That’s about the length of your arm from fingertips to elbow. Some people may need a longer piece, so don’t try to scrimp. Use what you need to do the job well. When you’ve got your piece of floss in hand, grab it at one end and wrap it several times around the middle finger of one hand. Using the other end of the floss, repeat that wrap around the middle finger of your other hand, until you’ve got about an inch of floss remaining between your wrapped fingers.
Next, gently place the floss between two teeth. The space where your teeth meet can be tight. In order to help the floss slide more easily through the gap, try pulling it back and forth as you guide it between the teeth. Then pull against one tooth and move it up and down several times, to scrape the side of that tooth. Drawing the floss into the shape of a “C” against that same tooth, move the floss up into the gum area, and under the gumline to remove any food particles or plaque from the tiny 1-millimeter “pocket” under your gum at the gumline.
Repeat the above up-and-down motion and the “C-shaped” motion along the tooth on the other side of the gap. When you’ve finished scraping both teeth, gently draw the floss out of the space between those two teeth using the same seesaw, back and forth motion you used at the beginning.
Continue this pattern of flossing between all of your teeth. Each time you move to a new place, rewrap the floss on your fingers to expose an unused portion of the floss. And when you’re flossing, don’t forget about the back edge of the molars at the rear of your mouth: clean those as well. When you’re finished flossing, rinse well with water. As another line of defense against bacteria and plaque, you can also use a quality mouthwash to rinse.
In addition, it may be helpful to develop a habit of starting with the same tooth each time you floss, because repeating the same pattern daily can ensure that you’re not missing any teeth! The same goes for the time of day when you floss. Most people floss before bedtime, but what is most important is that you floss once each day. As for the type of floss, you can choose between waxed or unwaxed floss and floss with flavor or no flavor. Some people like using waxed floss, because they feel it helps the floss glide more easily along their teeth. There are also other implements that can be used for flossing, like Y-shaped floss holders or water flossers. These can be used on a temporary basis, but the best option is to floss manually with floss string.
If you have any problems with the floss fraying or catching on your teeth, contact our Lifetime Family Dental office. It could indicate a minor crack or chip, or the problem may easily be solved by smoothing out a rough spot in your dental work.
There you have it, folks: an easy how-to on flossing techniques. If you’re a visual learner, here’s a video that demonstrates proper technique. Or, try this link to see still images of each step of the flossing process. And if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by our dental office in Gilbert, AZ. We’re Lifetime Family Dental, and we’d like to see your teeth stay beautiful and strong for a lifetime!