Flossing is an important oral hygiene habit. It cleans and dislodges food stuck between your teeth, which reduces the amount of bacteria and plaque in your mouth. Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on teeth and contributes to cavities and gum disease.
Although many people brush their teeth daily, not everyone flosses their teeth as regularly as they brush. According to a national poll, about 4 in 10 Americans floss their teeth at least once a day, and 20 percent of Americans never floss at all.
Of course, it isn’t enough to simply floss. It’s important to floss correctly. Improper flossing can potentially damage your teeth and gums. So, if you’re unsure about the right way to clean in between your teeth, here’s a step-by-step guide on the best way to floss.
What are the steps to follow?
Follow this step-by-step guide to floss your teeth correctly.
- Break off about 18 to 24 inches of dental floss. To hold the floss correctly, wind most of the floss around both of your middle fingers. Leave only about 1 to 2 inches of floss for your teeth.
- Next, hold the floss taut with your thumbs and index fingers.
- Place the dental floss in between two teeth. Gently glide the floss up and down, rubbing it against both sides of each tooth. Don’t glide the floss into your gums. This can scratch or bruise your gums.
- As the floss reaches your gums, curve the floss at the base of the tooth to form a C shape. This allows the floss to enter the space between your gums and your tooth.
- Repeat the steps as you move from tooth to tooth. With each tooth, use a new, clean section of floss.
What’s the best way to floss with braces?
Flossing with braces can be tricky, and it takes more time than flossing without braces. If you use regular floss, give yourself 10 to 15 minutes to floss your teeth.
With this method, choose waxed floss, which is less likely to tear and get stuck in your braces.
Flossing instructions for braces
- Break off about 18 to 24 inches of waxed dental floss.
- Stand in front of a mirror so you can make sure the floss is going where you need it to.
- Start by threading the floss between your teeth and the main wire. Twist the loose ends of the floss around your index fingers so you can move the floss around easily.
- Press the floss between the two teeth as gently as you can. Then, move the floss up and down along the sides of both teeth.
- When working on your top teeth, try to make an upside-down U with the floss. To do this, go up the side of one tooth until you get to the gumline. Then, glide the floss down the side of the other tooth.
- Gently remove the floss and carefully unthread it from behind the wire. Avoid popping the floss out of your tooth, as you could dislodge a wire.
- Now, move on to the next two teeth, and use the same technique until you’ve flossed between all your teeth.
Instead of using waxed floss, other options that work well for flossing if you have braces include using a Waterpik, a type of water flosser, or a floss threader, a small tool that helps you thread floss under your braces. Both can save you time with flossing.
What if my gums bleed?
When you first start flossing, your gums may be tender and bleed a little. Carry on flossing your teeth as directed by your dental team and the bleeding should stop as your gums become healthier.
If you’re still getting regular bleeding after a few days, see your dental team. They can check if you’re flossing correctly.
When should I floss?
Knowing the right time to floss also contributes to good oral health. Some people have a routine of brushing their teeth first and then flossing. However, it’s generally recommended to floss and then brush your teeth.
Flossing helps lift and release food and plaque stuck in between your teeth while brushing removes these particles from your mouth. If you brush first and floss afterward, food and plaque remains in your mouth until the next time you brush.
The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once per day and brushing twice per day.
What Are the Benefits of Flossing My Teeth?
Regular use of dental floss removes plaque, helping to prevent the buildup of plaque, which can lead to tartar. Simply flossing your teeth can make them look brighter by removing plaque and excess food particles that you may not see in the mirror or in areas that your toothbrush doesn’t reach.
Think of a carpet before and after you vacuum. You may not see the dust and dirt, but once you vacuum and the dust and dirt is removed, the carpet looks brighter. The same principle applies to flossing.
Daily flossing doesn’t just keep your teeth healthy—practicing good oral hygiene contributes to your health in other ways, too.
There’s an increasing amount of evidence linking periodontal disease to an increased risk of heart disease, although more studies are needed to confirm this link. Some researchers think that mouth infections, like any infections, can increase the levels of inflammatory substances in the blood, which can promote blood clots and slow blood flow to the heart. Another theory is that bacteria from a mouth infection can easily enter the bloodstream and impact your cardiovascular system.
It also helps prevent tooth decay and can reduce your risk of developing gum disease by removing plaque.
Also, flossing allows you to regularly examine your mouth for any swelling or redness. Flossing allows you to take a good look at your teeth, tongue, and gums. Certain conditions including some cancers, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and eating disorders can cause lesions in your mouth and redness and swelling of the gums.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.